Della Sala studied at the University of Milan, the University of California Berkeley and the Medical Research Council of Cambridge, earning a medical degree, a specialization in neurology and a PhD in psychobiology. He has held positions in Milan, Aberdeen in Scotland and Perth in Australia and is now professor of Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh.
He is editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Cortex, devoted to the study of cognition and the relationship between the nervous system and mental processes, and has written over 700 experimental papers in peer-reviewed journals and a number of specialized and popular books. For his skill in science communication, he was awarded the Tam Dalyell for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science.
He is president of CICAP, the Italian Committee for Control of Pseudoscience Claims.