Giulia Serino

PhD student

Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development
Department of Psychological Sciences
Birkbeck, University of London


Research Interests

My research is focused on the development of the attention system during the first years of life. More specifically, I am interested in understanding the role of distraction from a developmental perspective. In the recent literature, distraction has become synonymous with poor attentional abilities or reflective of noisy and chaotic home environments. However, adaptive behaviour requires a person to be able to respond to stimuli outside the current focus of attention and to orient towards them if they could be behaviourally relevant or contribute to the current goal.

My research aims to investigate whether the concept of distraction can be reconceptualised as an attentional trait, whose extremes –either an over response to sensory stimulation or an inability to detect and orient attention towards salient and informative stimuli– are equally detrimental for adaptation and learning, while intermediate levels are beneficial. In particular, I aim to study whether too much or too little distractibility contributes to the emergence of optimal learning skills in toddlers and subsequent school achievement in later childhood, and whether this balance is related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) traits.



Dr. Natasha Kirkham (Birkbeck, University of London)

Prof Denis Mareschal (Birkbeck, University of London) 

Prof Gaia Scerif (University of Oxford)


PhD Psychology, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London (2020-present)

Erasmus+ for Studies Exchange Program, Donders Institute, Radboud University,
Research Masters in Behavioural Science and Cognitive Neuroscience

MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology (Distinction),
University of Padua (2017-2019)

BSc in Psychological Sciences and Techniques (Distinction),
University of Milan-Bicocca (2014-2017)



Poli, F., Serino, G., Mars, R. B., & Hunnius, S. (2020). Infants tailor their attention to maximize learning. Science Advances, 6(39), eabb5053.



ESRC +3 PhD studentship (2020 – 2023)
ESRC Advanced Quantitative Methods enhancement