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Eleonora Russo studied physics at the University of Pisa in Italy and received a PhD in Neuroscience from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste for her work on modelling free association dynamics in the cortex. She moved to Mannheim (Germany) as postdoctoral fellow at the Central Institute of Mental Health, where she later became an Independent Research Fellow of the Chica and Heinz Foundation. Here she developed machine learning techniques for the unsupervised investigation of neuronal signals with the aim of characterizing information encoding in the brain. She then moved to Mainz (Germany) to work as an Independent Research Fellow at the Johannes Gutenberg University and in 2023 she became an Assistant Professor of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, in Pisa, at The BioRobotics Institute, now leading the Brain Dynamics Laboratory. 

Her research focuses on the investigation of cognitive processes by combining modelling with mining of experimental data with statistical machine learning techniques.


Short Bio

2023 - now: Assistant Professor, PI of the Brain Dynamics Lab at The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy.

2021 2023: Independent Research Fellow, PI of Complex Systems Group at the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz.

2020 – 2021: Independent Research Fellow of the Chica and Heinz Foundation, Dept. of Theoretical Neurosciences, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Heidelberg University.

2012 – 2020: Postdoctoral Fellow, Daniel Durstewitz group, Dept. of Theoretical Neurosciences, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Heidelberg University.

2007 – 2012: PhD in Cognitive and Theoretical Neurosciences, SISSA - Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanti, Trieste, Italy. Thesis title: Cortical free association dynamics: distinct latching transitions, distinct latching phases, a lingering latching memorySupervisor: Prof. Alessandro Treves.

2005 – 2007 M.Sc. in Physics, University of Pisa, Italy. Thesis title: Latching dynamics in a Potts associative memory (110/110 cum laude). Supervisors: Prof. Riccardo Mannella (Pisa), Prof. Alessandro Treves (SISSA). 

2002 – 2005 B.Sc. in Physics, University of Pisa, Italy. Thesis title:  Noise and coherence in a neural network model (110/110 cum laude). Supervisor: Prof. Riccardo Mannella.


  • A.P.F. Domanski, M.T. Kucewicz, E. Russo, M.D. Tricklebank, E.S.J. Robinson, D. Durstewitz, M.W. Jones, 2023, Distinct hippocampal-prefrontal neural assemblies coordinate memory encoding, maintenance, and recall, Current Biology 33 (7), 1220-1236.e4.
  • S. Melbaum*, E. Russo*, D. Eriksson, A. Schneider, D. Durstewitz, T. Brox, I. Diester, 2022, Conserved structures of neural activity in sensorimotor cortex of freely moving rats allow cross-subject decodingNature Communication 13 (1), 7420. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-35115-6.   * equal contributions
  • L. Winkelmeier, C. Filosa, M. Scheller, R. Hartig, S. Markus, R. Becker, D. Wolf, J. Reinwald, M. Fungisai Gerchen, A. Sartorius, A. Meyer-Lindenberg, W. Weber-Fahr, C. Clemm von Hohenberg*, E. Russo*, W. Kelsch*, 2022, Striatal hub of dynamic and stabilized prediction coding in forebrain networks for olfactory reinforcement learningNature Communication 13 (1), 3305. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-30978-1.  * equal contributions
  • L.T. Hunt, N.D. Daw, P. Kaanders, M.A. MacIver, U. Mugan, E. Procyk, A.D. Redish, E. Russo, J. Scholl, K. Stachenfeld, C.R.E. Wilson, N. Kolling, 2021, Formalising planning and information search in naturalistic decision-makingNature Neuroscience 24 (8). DOI: 10.1038/s41593-021-00866-w.
  • E. Russo, T. Ma, R. Spanagel, D. Durstewitz, H. Toutounji, G. Köhr, 2021, Coordinated prefrontal state transition leads extinction of reward-seeking behaviors, Journal of Neuroscience, 41 (11) 2406-2419. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2588-20.2021
  • L. Oettl, M. Scheller, C. Filosa, S. Wieland, F. Haag, C. Loeb, D. Durstewitz, R. Shusterman, E. Russo*, W. Kelsch*, 2020, Phasic dopamine reinforces distinct striatal stimulus encoding in the olfactory tubercle driving dopaminergic reward predictionNature Communication 11 (1), 3460. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17257-7.  * equal contributions
  • L. Oboti, E. Russo, T. Tran, D. Durstewitz, J.G. Corbin, 2018, Amygdala Corticofugal Input Shapes Mitral Cell Responses in the Accessory Olfactory BulbeNeuro 5 (3), DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0175-18.2018.
  • E. Russo, D. Durstewitz, 2017, Cell assemblies at multiple time scales with arbitrary lag distributions, eLife 6:e19428. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.19428.001.
  • E. Russo, A. Treves, 2013, The phase space of lateral thought, Advances in Cognitive Neurodynamics, (III), Springer, pp: 483-489. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-4792-0_65
  • E. Russo, A. Treves, 2012, Cortical free association dynamics: distinct phases of a latching network, Physical Review E, 85(5):051920. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.85.051920
  • A. Akrami, E. Russo, A. Treves, 2012, Lateral thinking, from the Hopfield model to cortical dynamics, Brain Research, 1434:4-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.07.030
  • E. Russo, A. Treves, 2011, An uncouth approach to language recursivity, Biolinguistics, 5:133-150. DOI: 10.5964/bioling.8837
  • G. Zamora López, E. Russo, P. M. Gleiser, C. Zhou and J. Kurths, 2011, Characterizing the complexity of brain and mind networks, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, 369:3730-3747. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2011.0121
  • E. Russo, S. Pirmoradian, A. Treves, 2011, Associative latching dynamics vs. syntax, Advances in Cognitive Neurodynamics (II), Springer, pp:111-115. DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-9695-1_17
  • E. Russo, V. M. K. Namboodiri, A. Treves, and E. Kropff, 2008, Free association transitions in models of cortical latching dynamics, New J. Phys., 10 015008. DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/10/1/015008