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Peter De Lissa

Job: PostDoc
Office: RM C-3.111
Rue P.A. de Faucigny 2
1700 Fribourg
Phone: +41 26 300 7645
eMail: peter.delissa@unifr.ch
Unit: Neurosciences visuelles et sociales      
Personal page: https://www.ccd.edu.au/people/profile.php?memberID=183


Research fields

My research focuses on two areas of cognition: Visual and auditory processing. My work involving visual processing aims to flesh out the interaction between task and stimulus as letter, words, faces, and objects pass through the visual system and are integrated in the brain to form a response or understanding in a complex environment. This involves scrutinising each step of the processing pathway, from the primitive visual analysis, to structural analysis, through to the activation of associated concepts and modalities, and subsequent overt responses; processes which are all the while influenced by top down communication from the frontal lobe. The latter is an important mediator of attention, and highlights the importance of task demands when interpreting the results of behavioural and brain imaging studies. Within this sphere I undertake research projects investigating: The influence of task demands on letter processing in both ERP and MEG, parafoveal preview effects and word-neighbour suppression in a lexical decision task, the co-registration of EEG with eye-movements to form fixation-related potentials (FRP) during the peripheral and foveal perception of faces and objects, and the effects of goal-driven gaze-orienting in paradigms looking at social engagement. I have also led projects investigating the process of orthographic learning within complex paragraphs through fixation-related potentials, and am currently working on a similar principle in MEG investigating orthographic learning in a read-aloud paradigm. I am also involved in a series of studies utilising the FRP technique to investigate the role of prosody in silent sentence reading in both adults and children. 

My work involving auditory research moves more towards investigating the influence that task difficulty and the addition of attentional/processing demands place on individuals as they attempt to comprehend speech, or indeed ignore extraneous sounds as they focus on other tasks. This has led me to work on projects ranging from the effects of short and long-term meditation on auditory attention, the development of objective indices of listening effort using EEG and pupil dilation measures, the validation of cheap and portable gaming EEG headsets as research tools, and the influence of syntactic disruption on pupil dilation measurements. 

My research has led me to personally use an array of tools to investigate these spheres of concern, such as ERP (both research-grade and gaming EEG headsets), eye-tracking, FRP (eye-tracking/EEG co-registration), pupil dilation, EEG frequency analysis, MEG, and TMS. These techniques provide invaluable insight into the ways in which stimuli are received and processed during behavioural tasks, though it is of primary importance to understand the nature and demands of the tasks that are being performed. Only then may we speak reliably about the patterns that we observe through their use.



  • Turano*, M. T., Lao*, J., Richoz, A. R., De Lissa, P., Desgosciu, S. B. A., Viggiano, M. P., & Caldara, R. (2017). Fear boosts the early neural coding of faces. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, 1-13. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsx110 [PDF]
    * Joint first author
  • Wegener, S., Wang, H. C., Lissa, P., Robidoux, S., Nation, K., & Castles, A. (2017). Children reading spoken words: Interactions between vocabulary and orthographic expectancy. Developmental Science. doi: 10.1111/desc.12577 [PDF]
  • Biedermann, B., de Lissa, P., Mahajan, Y., Polito, V., Badcock, N., Connors, M.H., Quinto, L., Larsen, L., & McArthur, G.M. (2016). Meditation and auditory attention: An ERP study of meditators and non-meditators. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 109, 63-70. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2016.09.016
  • Burianová, H., Sowman, P.F., Marstaller, L., Rich, A.N., Williams, M.A., Savage, G., Al-Janabi, S., de Lissa, P., & Johnson, B.W. (2016). Adaptive motor imagery: A multimodal study of immobilization-induced brain plasticity. Cerebral Cortex, 26(3), 1072-1080. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhu287
  • Byrow, Y., Broeren, S., de Lissa, P., & Peters, L. (2016). Anxiety, attachment & attention: The influence of adult attachment style on attentional biases of anxious individuals. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 7(1), 110-128. doi:10.5127/jep.046714
  • Caruana, N., de Lissa, P., & McArthur, G. (In Press). Beliefs about human agency influence the neural processing of gaze during joint attention. Social Neurosciencedoi:10.1080/17470919.2016.1160953
  • McMahon, C.M., Boisvert, I., de Lissa, P., Granger, L., Ibrahim, R., Lo, C., Miles, K., & Graham, P.L. (2016). Monitoring alpha oscillations and pupil dilation across the performance-intensity function. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 745. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00745
  • Caruana, N., de Lissa, P., & McArthur, G. (2015). The neural time course of evaluating self-initiated joint attention bids. Brain and Cognition, 98, 43-52. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2015.06.001
  • de Lissa, P., Sorensen, S., Badcock, N., Thie, J., & McArthur, G. (2015). Measuring the face-sensitive N170 with a gaming EEG system: A validation study. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 253, 47-54. doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2015.05.025
  • de Lissa, P., McArthur, G., Hawelka, S., Palermo, R., Mahajan, Y., & Hutzler, F. (2014). Fixation location on upright and inverted faces modulates the N170. Neuropsychologia, 57, 1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.02.006
  • Badcock, N.A., Mousikou, P., Mahajan, Y., de Lissa, P., Thie, J., & McArthur, G.M. (2013). Validation of the Emotiv EPOC® EEG gaming system for measuring research quality auditory ERPs. PeerJ, 1, e38. doi:10.7717/peerj.38

Département de Psychologie / Departement für Psychologie - R. Faucigny 2 - 1700 Fribourg / Freiburg - Tel +41 26 300 7620 - Fax +41 26 / 300 9712 - psychologie [at] unifr.ch - uni