My research investigates the effects of culture and social contexts on human development, brain processes, and genetics. I'm particularly interested in how these effects can produce psychiatric disorders. I investigate these research questions through behavioral, neuroimaging, and genetic studies.
Most psychiatric disorders are characterized by some maladaptive social behaviors. The symptoms of many of these disorders also vary across cultures, indicating that, despite social deficits, social information contributes to the phenotypes of many disorders. This ostensible contradiction may be, in part, explained by challenging social environments, atypical neural processes, or specific genetic or epigenetic traits. However, little is currently understood about the relationship between the brain, genes, culture and disorder. Investigating this relationship may elucidate currently unstudied aspects of social development, cognition, and neural plasticity.
My research focuses on identifying variations in neural processes and genetic traits as a function of immediate social context or broader sociocultural differences, and the implications of these variations for mental illness. I am also interested in developing improved methods for investigating the relationship between culture and the brain, and studying the influence context interpretation has on psychopathology. My interests are primarily empirical, but extend to larger implications for public health, social policy as well as theoretical and neuroethical issues, such as conceptualizing the relationship between brain, genes, culture, and disorder; promoting equal representation of minorities in medical research; and improving diagnostic accuracy in migrant patients. My current investigations take a biomedical approach and studies disorders from the DSM and ICD; in the future, I hope to expand this research to culture-bound syndromes and underrepresented populations. Click for more about my research on Cultural Neuropsychiatry, CBB Model, or Brain Culture and Development.
I am an Italian-American scientist who has lived in the U.S., Germany, and Canada. Countries of extended stay include Japan, Italy, and Denmark. I've also travelled to South Africa, United Arab Emirates, India, Czech Republic, Greece, Austria, England, France, and the Netherlands. These experiences have taught me a lot about human social development and I hope to bring my unique vantage-point to methods and lessons from cultural neuroscience and transcultural psychiatry to describe the fundamental nature of mental disorders.
This website is designed to provide an overview of my professional work. The aim of the CrafaLab Blog is to share recent news and accomplishments, and act as a hub for relevant research in the social, cultural, and psychiatric neuroscience.