The course aims to investigate human communication from a cognitive and semiotic perspective. By exploring the psychological processes involved in its functioning and evolution, the course focuses on the multimodal character of human communication, in which the body plays a central role to account for effective human interaction in real communicative contexts. Both in the light of current studies coming from the “second-generation cognitive sciences” and with reference to experimental research on both typical and clinical individuals, the course aims at highlighting how the centrality of multimodality and corporeality has important implications for reflecting on more general theoretical issues involved in the study of human nature.
At the end of the course, participants:
- will be able to critically discuss the main theoretical proposals inherent language and human communication;
- will be able to identify the main components of verbal and nonverbal communication as well as to identify its cognitive and evolutionary underpinnings;
- will acquire knowledge on the main methods of applying experimental research to multimodal communication to construct plausible explanations of the nature and functioning of the multiple expressive formats in which communication takes place.

teacher profile | teaching materials


Against the background of a cognitive theoretical framework, the course deals with the leading topics related to the multimodal basis of human communication, providing an up-to-date overview on the state of the art and the mainlines of investigation. The course begins with an overview of the main theories of communication focusing specifically on those models which emphasize the role of the body and the gesture, as a primary form of expression at the basis of human cognition. The focus is on the processes and cognitive, social and emotional mechanisms underlying the functioning of communication in its various modalities. Starting from this theoretical framework, the second part of the course explores the application of a multimodal conception of communication, providing methodological suggestions for the analysis of the different forms of expression concerning communication.

The course will be organized into the following main contents:

- Communication within Embodied Cognition
- The multimodal character of human communication
- The role of gesture: what is it, gesture and cognition, gesture and cultural variability, gesture in the ontogenetic and phylogenetic development of language
- The study of multimodal communication from an experimental perspective

Core Documentation

- Campisi E. (2018). Che cos’è la gestualità. Carocci editore, Roma.
- Scientific papers provided at the course.

Reference Bibliography

- Campisi E. (2018). Che cos’è la gestualità. Carocci editore, Roma. - Scientific papers provided at the course.

Type of delivery of the course

Courses are both in presence and remotely on Teams


Attendance at lessons is not mandatory

Type of evaluation

Written test