Department of Psychology

Staff

Photo of Ms Patrizia Piotti

Ms Patrizia Piotti

  • Role Title: PhD Student
  • Address: King Henry Building and Psychology Eastney Annex (Dog Cognition Centre Portsmouth)
  • Telephone: 023 9284 4440
  • Email: patrizia.piotti@port.ac.uk
  • Department: Psychology
  • Faculty: Science

Biography

I graduated in 2009 in Veterinary Medicine from the Veterinary School of the University of Milan (Italy) with a thesis in veterinary behavioural medicine, under the supervision of Dr Palestrini and Dr Berteselli. My project was part of a broader study on the effect of chronic distress on the development of spontaneous malignant tumours in pet dogs.

After graduation I spent a year gaining experience as veterinary surgeon. This included an Externship at the Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital of the University of Cambridge (UK), an Internship in veterinary ICU and emergency medicine at S. Siro veterinary hospital in Milan (Italy), and visiting periods in several veterinary practices across the UK.

I then enrolled in a Master in Clinical Animal Behaviour at the University of Lincoln (UK), which I concluded in 2012. As part of my thesis I was supervised by Prof Mills and Dr Burman, and performed a research project based on the use of a Cognitive Bias test in pet dogs to assess the valence of dogs’ emotional response to a registration of the canine vocalisation called “dog laugh”, as described by Dr Simonet (2001).

Teaching Responsibilities

2015-2016 Support tutor for Applying Psychological Research Methods 1 & 2 (level 4); Quantitative & Qualitative Data Analysis seminar support (level 4); Applied Cognition Lab demonstrator (Animal) (level 4)

2014-2015 Support tutor for Research Methods & Analysis I (level 5); Support tutor for Applying Psychological Research Methods 1 & 2 (level 4); Applied Cognition Lab demonstrator (Animal) (level 4); Key Idea in Human and Animal Behaviour Field Trip support tutor (level 4)

2013-2014 Support tutor for Applying Psychological Research Methods 1 & 2 (level 4); Applied Cognition Lab demonstrator (Animal) (level 4); Key Idea in Human and Animal Behaviour Field Trip support tutor (level 4)

Research

I am currently undertaking a PhD at the Department of Psychology of the University of Portsmouth, Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology, under the supervision of Dr Kaminski, Dr Morris and Dr Waller.

My research is focused on the study of dog cognition from the comparative point of view. Dogs (Canis familiaris) are good subjects for comparison because they appear to have some “human- like” social skills. The most striking example is dogs’ ability to follow human cues to hidden food, when provided in a cooperative context. Without the need of explicit training, and since young age, dogs outperform their closest relatives, i.e. wolves, and even humans’ closest relatives, i.e. chimpanzees. One hypothesis is that dogs’ developed specific socio-communicative skills for interacting with humans as an adaptation to life with them, making dogs a fascinating model for comparison and cognitive studies.

During my PhD I am investigating dogs’ cognitive skills with areas such as helping, altruism, pro-social behaviour.

Funding

2015 ASAB Conference Grant, Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Nottingham, UK

2012 PhD Department Bursary, University of Portsmouth, UK

Collaborations

Affiliate member of the Clinical Animal Behaviour (CAB) Research Group 

Achievement and Recgnition

2012 School Prize for Best Overall Performance on the MSc Clinical Animal Behaviour, School of Life Science, University of Lincoln, UK

Professional memberships

Member of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Publications

Piotti, P., Kaminski, J. (2015) Do dogs provide information helpfully? Poster presentation. ASAB Easter Meeting, Durham, UK

Piotti, P. (2015) Do dogs help? Invited lecture Sparsholt College, Sparsholt, UK.

Piotti, P., Berteselli, G., Palestrini, C. (2011) Stress related behaviours in a population of dogs with cancer. Poster presentation. European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine (ECAWBM) annual conference, Avignon, France.