Staff profile

Dr Giacomo Vivanti

Research Fellow

College of Science, Health and Engineering
Psychology and Public Health
Department of Psychology and Counselling
Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre

Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre, Margot Prior Wing - La Trobe University Community Children’s Centre, Melbourne (Bundoora)


PhD. in Cognitive Science

Membership of professional associations

Member, International Society for Autism Research

Area of study


Brief profile

Dr Giacomo Vivanti received his PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Siena, Italy, in 2008. He joined the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) at La Trobe University, in August 2010.

After completing a visiting fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale University, and a clinical internship at the University Hospital of Siena, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the M.I.N.D. Institute, University of California, Davis under the mentorship of Professor Sally Rogers, Professor Sally Ozonoff, and Professor Peter Mundy.

Dr Vivanti's current research is focused on the cognitive processes underlying action understanding, imitation, and social learning in Autism, and the impact of early intensive treatment on the outcomes of young children with Autism.

Dr Vivanti is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and a member of the Italian Department of the Health Committee to establish evidence-based guidelines for Autism treatment in Italy. In addition he is a consultant for University programs, scientific institutions, advocacy groups, scientific journals, and service providers across Europe, U.S.A., and Australia. He is the author of three books, several book chapters and numerous research papers published in leading peer-reviewed Psychology journals.

Research interests

Clinical and health psychology

- Autism Spectrum Disorders

Cognitive and developmental psychology

- Social Cognitive Development

Recent publications

  • Pokorny, J., Hatt, N., Colombi, C., Vivanti, G., Roger, S.J., Rivera, S.  (in press) The action observation system when observing hand actions in autism and typical development. Autism Research
  • Vivanti, G. (2014). The Importance of Distinguishing Propensity Versus Ability to Imitate in ASD Research and Early Detection. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1-2. DOI 10.1007/s10803-014-2254-z
  • Foti, F., De Crescenzo F., Vivanti, G., Menghini, D., Vicari, S. (2014). Implicit learning in individuals with autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine. DOI:
  • Nuske, H., Vivanti, G., Hudry, K., Dissanayake, C. (2014) Pupillometry Reveals Reduced Unconscious Emotional Reactivity in Autism. Biological Psychology. S0301-0511(14)00148-3. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.07.003
  • Vivanti, G., Paynter, J., Duncan, E., Fothergill, H., Dissanayake, C., Rogers, S.J. & Victorian ASELCC Team (2014). Effectiveness and Feasibility of the Early Start Denver Model Implemented in a Group-Based Community Childcare Setting. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1-14. DOI 10.1007/s10803-014-2168-9
  • Vivanti, G., Prior, M., Williams, K., & Dissanayake, C. (2014) Predictors of outcomes in Autism Intervention: Why don’t we know more? Frontiers in Pediatrics, 2: 58. DOI: 10.3389/fped.2014.00058
  • Nuske, H. J., Vivanti, G., & Dissanayake, C. (2014b) Reactivity to fearful expressions of familiar and unfamiliar people in children with autism: An eye-tracking pupillometry study, Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1186/1866-1955-6-14
  • Vivanti, G., Rogers, S.J. (2014) Autism and the mirror neuron system: insights from learning and teaching. Philosophical Transactions of the Royale Society of London Series B 369: 20130184.
  • Vivanti, G., Trembath, D., & Dissanayake, C. (2014) Mechanisms of Imitation Impairment in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology DOI: 10.1007/s10802-014-9874-9
  • Vivanti, G., & Dissanayake, C. (2014) Propensity to imitate in autism is not modulated by the model’s gaze direction: an eye-tracking study. Autism Research DOI: 10.1002/aur.1376
  • Vivanti, G., Hamilton, A. (2014) Imitation in Autism Spectrum Disorders. In Volkmar, F., Paul, R., Rogers, S., Pelphrey, K. (Eds) The Handbook of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 4th Edition, Vol 1 - Diagnosis, Development and Brain Mechanisms, pp. 278-301, New York, Wiley
  • Nuske, H., Vivanti, G., Dissanayake, C. (2014) Brief Report: Evidence for Normative Resting-State Physiology in Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44:2057–2063 DOI 10.1007/s10803-014-2068-z
  • Trembath, D., Vivanti, G. (2014) Problematic but predictive: Individual differences in children with autism spectrum disorder. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 2, 57-60    
  • Vivanti, G., Trembath, D., Dissanayake, C. (2014) Atypical monitoring and responsiveness to goal directed gaze in autism spectrum disorder. Experimental Brain Research, 232 (2), 695-701 
  • Zachor, D., Curatolo, P., Vivanti, G. et al. (2014) Recommendations for early diagnosis and intervention in autism spectrum disorders: An Italian–Israeli consensus conference. European Journal of Paediatric Neurology 18(2):107-18. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2013.09.002.
  • Vivanti, G., Barbaro, J., Hudry, K., Dissanayake, C., & Prior, M. (2013) Intellectual development in autism spectrum disorders: new insights from longitudinal studies. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 354.
  • Vivanti, G. (2013) Imitation in Autism Spectrum Disorders: From Research to Treatment. In D. Riva, S. Bulgheroni & M. Zappella (Eds.), Neurobiology, Diagnosis and Treatment in Autism. An Update (pp. 161-165). Mountrouge: John Libbey Eurotext.
  • Vivanti, G., Hudry, K., Trembath, D., Barbaro, J., Richdale, A., Dissanayake, C. (2013) Towards the DSM 5 Criteria for Autism: Clinical, Cultural and Research Implications. Australian Psychologist, 48, 258-261
  • Nuske, H., Vivanti, G., Dissanayake, C. (2013) Are emotion impairments unique to, universal, or specific in autism spectrum disorder? A comprehensive review. Cognition and Emotion, 27:6, 1042-1061 
  • Vivanti, G., Dissanayake, C., Zierhut, C., Roger, S.J, & the Victorian ASELCC Team (2013) Brief Report: Predictors of Outcomes in the Early Start Denver Model delivered in a Group Setting. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43, 1717-1724. 
  • Vivanti, G. (2012) Imitation of Body Movements. In Volkmar, F. (Ed) The Encyclopedia of Autism and Related Disorders. Springer
  • Esposito, G., Vivanti, G. (2012) Gross Motor Skills. In Volkmar, F. (Ed) The Encyclopedia of Autism and Related Disorders. Springer
  • Duncan, E., Vivanti, G. (2012) Team Approach. In Volkmar, F. (Ed) The Encyclopedia of Autism and Related Disorders. Springer
  • Colombi, C., Vivanti, G., Rogers, S. (2011) The Neuropsychology of Imitation Deficit in Autism. In Fein, D. (Ed) The Neuropsychology of Autism. Oxford University Press
  • Vivanti, G., Rogers, S.J. (2011) Action understanding and social learning in Autism: A developmental perspective. Lifespan and Disability, 14(1):7-29.
  • Vivanti, G., McCormick, C., Young, G., Abucayan, F., Hatt, N., Nadig, A., Ozonoff, S., Rogers, S. (2011) Intact and Impaired Mechanisms of action understanding in autism and typical development. Developmental Psychology, 47(3):841-56.
  • Panocchia, N., Bossola, M., Vivanti, G. (2010) Transplantation and mental retardation: what is the meaning of a discrimination? American Journal of Transplantion 10(4):727–730
  • Nadig, A., Vivanti, G., Ozonoff, S. (2009) Object Descriptions Under Different Communicative Demands:  How Do Children with and without Autism Adapt? Autism Research 2(6):334-47
  • Vivanti, G., Nadig, A., Ozonoff, S., Rogers, S. (2008) What do children with autism attend to during imitation tasks? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 101(3):186-205
  • Canitano, R., Vivanti, G. (2007) Tics and Tourette syndrome in Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Autism, the International Journal of Research and Practice, 11(1): 19-28.