Alessia Pannese

Alessia Pannese

dates de séjour

01/09/2016 - 30/06/2017






Université d'Oxford

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

The ABC of Self-control: Aristotle, the Brain, and (un)Consciousness

Self-control is the ability to regulate and override one’s own thoughts, emotions, and actions, keeping them in line with overarching goals. Selfcontrol is typically studied in terms of conscious executive function. Ancient philosophical notions and contemporary empirical neuroscience, however, suggest that much of human behaviour is not deliberate, but rather relies on unconscious, automatic processes. According to Aristotle, virtue is not an effortful act, but rather an automatic habit, which develops after repetition of virtuous behaviour. Similarly, neuroscientific and socio-cognitive studies have shown that goal-directed behaviour may be triggered and maintained by external cues of which the subject is unaware. It therefore appears that both ancient philosophy and contemporary neuroscience view self-control as operating on two levels: one conscious and effortful, the other unconscious and automatic. This project sets itself the objective of investigating the relation between these two facets of self-control –conscious and automatic – from an interdisciplinary perspective.


Alessia Pannese studied music theory (Conservatorio di musica di Roma "Santa Cecilia"), law (Università degli studi di Roma "La Sapienza"), veterinary medicine (Università degli studi di Perugia), veterinary neuroscience (University of Cambridge, UK), and neurobiology (Columbia University). Her research interests span across medical (anaesthesia, natural and induced altered states of consciousness), cognitive (self-awareness, learning, brain laterality and plasticity), philosophical (philosophy of science), and art-related fields (creativity, esthetic resonance). For her doctoral work, she investigated the neural correlates of self-face perception and self-consciousness.