Francantonio Devoto



Francantonio Devoto, born in Chiavari (GE) in 1991, achieved his M.Sc. in Psychology with honors at the University of Pavia in 2015, July. Since October 2016 he collaborates with the University of Milano Bicocca and, since January 2016, with the IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi and with the Policlinico San Donato in the context of a study on the effects of deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS) on the reduction of food craving. He is currently a PhD student in Clinical Neuroscience at the School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano-Bicocca. His main research interest regards the study of the behavioural, cognitive and neurofunctional correlates of obesity. In particular, he is interested in the study of the mechanisms involved in the (dys)regulation of the body weight by means of meta-analytical, functional and structural neuroimaging techniques.


Neurofunctional biomarkers of obesity and weight loss

Track:  Clinical Neuroscience

Tutor: Prof. Eraldo Paulesu

Supervisor: Dr. Laura Zapparoli

Obesity is on the rise, as almost 50% of European adults are overweight or obese, thus representing a consistent medical and economical burden. To minimize the health costs of this condition, different approaches have been employed; however, most treatments, from physical activity and lifestyle interventions to bariatric surgery, often result in only a transient weight loss. Despite the causes of overweight and obesity may appear straightforward (i.e. an individual’s intake of food exceeds the homeostatic energy needs), the mechanisms underlying the overeating behaviour remain largely unknown. Indeed, eating is a complex and multisensory experience that calls into play different interrelating factors, at either the peripheral (homeostatic) level, with the long-term and circadian fluctuations of signalling molecules (e.g. ghrelin, insulin, leptin), and central (neurocognitive) level. The hypothalamus and reticular formation, represent, of course, the interface between the humoral and the neurocognitive levels. With that said, it follows that any treatment or approach to the study of the normal and pathological eating cannot bypass the study of the brain.

The main goal of my project will be the assessment of the neurocognitive changes associated with a neurostimulation treatment in a cohort of obese patients, with particular emphasis on the intrinsic functional connectivity of the resting-brain networks and their predictive power with respect to the outcomes of the treatment. Furthermore, a characterization of the implicit and explicit cognitive biases towards food will be attempted, by means of both behavioural and neuroimaging investigation.



  • Devoto F., Bonandrini R., Berlingeri M., Ferrulli A., Luzi L., Paulesu E., Zapparoli L. Hungry brains: a meta-analytical review of neuroimaging studies on food perception and appetite in obese individuals. European Workshop on Cognitive Neuropsychology, Brixen, January 21st – 26th. Oral presentation.