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Niccolo Pescetelli

BSc Cognitive Sciences (Hons), MSc Brain and Mind Sciences (Hons)

Attention & Cognitive Control Lab (Yeung Lab)

Decision and perceptual uncertainty in social situations



My main research focus is on decision-making and information processes in social contexts. I'm interested in how people interacting together share, transform and integrate information in order to make individual and collective decisions, often reaching outstanding results (e.g. Wisdom of Crowds and 2-Heads-Better-Than-One effects).

During my PhD I investigate the properties of groups of recursively interacting agents by studying their behaviour and dynamics in opinion space. In particular I'm looking at how people decisions and sense of confidence are affected by social interaction. I'm using Signal Detection Theory (SDT), Bayes, Agent-Based modelling and analysis of behavioural results.

Important applications of my work can be found in business, academia and everyday group interactions.

Current Research

My first research question is whether people are able to judge the reliability of their partners in the absence of objective feedback and what are the likely underlying mechanisms. By comparing human performance with an optimal Bayesian observer, we can identify differences and similarities and possibly understand the neural signatures underlying these processes.

My second research question focuses on what are the informational characteristics of ecological social interaction. For this purpose, we are bringing together two (or more) people to the lab and make them interact through a virtual environment. Later, their behaviour is analysed both at the individual and collective level in order to understand how interaction affects what the single individuals do and think and whether a machine can simulate the ecological behaviour of a social partner.


I'm currently a DPhil student in the ACC Lab, supervised by Nick Yeung. I also regularly collaborate with Bahador Bahrami - Crowd Cognition Group, UCL - and with Jean-Remi King and Stanislas Dehaene in CEA- Neurospin.

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