The research practicum will be carried out on any of these topics, which correspond to research programs of the Master’s program lecturers that can be grouped into: Behavior; Cognition & Primatology.
Research Groups – Course 2023-2024
|Violence Risk Assessment and Prediction||Stimuli Representations in Perceptual Learning Process||Cognition, Welfare and Conservation|
|Andres-Pueyo, Antonio>>||Artigas, Antonio A. >>||Colell, Montse >>|
|Citizenship as Mental Health||Cognitive basis of unwarranted beliefs||Estructura social en sociedades de primates|
|Eiroá Orosa, Francisco J. >>||Barbería, Itxaso >>||Dolado, Ruth >>|
|Construing Self and Others: Interventions in Clinical and Health Psychology||A.P.A.L. Group (Attention, Perception and Acquisition of Language)||Cognition, Welfare and Conservation|
|Feixas, Guillem >>||Bosch, Laura >>||Galbany, Jordi >>|
|Person-Environment transactions and Individual Differences||Delineating fronto-striatal circuits in Huntington’s disease: a multimodal neuroimaging approach||Primate Behaviour, Ecology and Cognition|
|Gallardo-Pujol, David >||Cámara, Estela >||Hernández-Aguilar, Adriana >|
|Validation of psychological tests||Executive Functions / Language Learning and Processing||Cognition, Welfare and Conservation|
|Guilera, Georgina >||Cunillera, Toni >||López Gaicoa, Álvaro >>|
|Dyadic Data Analysis||Brain Mechanisms of Language Learning||Cognition, Welfare and Conservation|
|Leiva, David >||De Diego Balaguer, Ruth >>||Mayo, Mercedes >>|
|Single-case designs data analysis||Brainlab – Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group||Adaptive Behavior and Interaction Research Group|
|Rumenov, Rumen >>||Escera, Carles >>||Quera, Vicenç >>|
|Structural Equation Modeling||Dynamics of Memory Formation||Estructura social en sociedades de primates|
|Maydeu, Alberto >>||Fuentemilla, Lluís >>||Salvador, Francesc >>|
|Neurobiology of Cognitive Abilities and Personality||Neurolinguistics, Multilingualism and Cognition|
|Burgaleta, Miguel >>||Hernández, Mireia >>|
Electrophysiological basis of affiliation, emotion recognition and cognitive control
|Computational Neuroscience, Machine Learning and Computer Vision|
|Recio, Guillermo >>||Keil, Matthias >>|
Neural Basis of Aggressive Behavior
|Perceptual and decisional processes in complex environments and virtual reality|
|Buades-Rotger, Macià >>||Lopez-Moliner, Joan >>|
|Learning from Reward|
|Marco-Pallarés, Josep >>|
|Multimodal perception and attention|
|Navarra, Jordi >>|
|A.P.A.L. Group (Attention, Perception and Acquisition of Language)|
|Pons, Ferran >>|
|Cognitive basis of unwarranted beliefs|
|Rodriguez-Ferreiro, Javier >>|
|Cognition and Brain Plasticity|
|Rodriguez Fornells, Antoni >>|
|Brainlab – Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group|
|SanMiguel, Iria >>|
|Brainlab – Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group|
|Via García, Marc >>|
|Brainlab – Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group|
|Costa-Faidella, Jordi >>|
|Brainlab – Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group|
|Domínguez-Borràs, Judith >>|
|Brain dynamics of higher pleasures|
|Mas-Herrero, Ernest >>|
|Brain Connectivity and Daily Anxiety Levels.|
Stimuli Representations in Perceptual Learning Process
Antonio A. Artigas
Mere exposure to more than one stimulus is known to trigger learning processes that modify their discriminability. In particular, intermixed exposure to two similar stimuli sharing common elements, AX and BX, where A and B refer to the unique elements of each stimulus and X to their common features, has been shown to result in improved discrimination—comparison made to a group in which AX and BX are exposed in separate blocks of trials (e.g., Symonds & Hall, 1995). This intermixed/blocked effect, an instance of perceptual learning, has been intensively researched and several mechanisms have been shown to contribute to the enhanced discriminability between AX and BX after intermixed pre-exposure (for a review, see Mitchell & Hall, 2014). Recently our research has produced an alternative approach to explain this Perceptual Learning phenomenon: the “differential representation hypothesis” (see Artigas & Prados, 2014; 2017). Right now our interest is to develop this approach systematically using a range of laboratory techniques both with non-humans animals (rats) and human participants.
Keywords: perceptual learning; stimulus representation; salience modulation.
Artigas, A. A., & Prados, J. (2014) Percpetual learning tranfer: salience of the common element as factor contributing to the intermixed/blocked effect. Journal experimental of psychology: Animal learning and cognition, 40(4), 419-424.
Mitchell, C., & Hall, G. (2014). Can theories of animal discrimination explain perceptual learning in humans? Psychological Bulletin, 140, 283–30
Violence Risk Assessment and Prediction
Antonio Andrés-Pueyo (GEAV)
The recent advances in the psychological assessment techniques applied to the practice of criminology and criminal psychology have developed new and successful techniques for violence risk assessment. First developed in the context of forensic psychiatry have become essential to the professional task in numerous people who work in legal and criminal law enforcement services or social and health services to prevent violence. Our research group, between criminology and psychology, the GEAV (www.ub.edu/geav) has specialized in the development and adaptation of risk assessment protocols to the spanish countries leading to violence. The GEAV has adapted the HCR-20, SVR-20 and SARA RSVP and has also created new protocols, as the RVD-BCN and ETAPA (among others) for application in professional contexts. At present we are working with new protocols to assess the risk of harassment of women and violence against parents. These protocols allow assessing the risk of sexual violence, against women, against parents and that violence caused by people with serious criminal records or mental disorders. Our work is done in collaboration with various community services (correctional services, NGOs, police, penal, psychiatric hospitals, etc ..) that allow our research is conducted to address real problems of the first order. We also have a laboratory for the development of the experimental and quantitative studies (simulation) related to the technical problem of violence risk assessment.
Keywords: Violence risk assessment. Criminal recidivism. Actuarial vs. Clinical prediction.
Pérez Ramírez, M., Redondo Illescas, S., Martínez García, M., García-Forero, C., & Pueyo, A. A. (2009). Assessing risk of recidivism in sex offenders. Psychology in Spain, (13), 55–61.
Gallardo-Pujol, D., Andrés-Pueyo, A., & Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2013). MAOA genotype, social exclusion and aggression: an experimental test of a gene–environment interaction. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 12(1), 140– 145.
Arbach-Lucioni, K., Andrés-Pueyo, A., Pomarol-Clotet, E., & Gomar-Soñes, J. (2011). Predicting violence in psychiatric inpatients: a prospective study with the HCR-20 violence risk assessment scheme. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 22(2), 203–222. http://doi.org/10.1080/14789949.2010.530290
Álvarez, M., Andrés-Pueyo, A., Augé, M., Choy, A., Fernández, R., Foulon, H., … Serratusell, L. (2011). The RVD-BCN. Risk Assessment guida for violence against women perpetrated by their partner or former partner.
Arbach-Lucioni, Karin, Marian Martinez-García, and Antonio Andrés-Pueyo. «Risk Factors for Violent Behavior in Prison Inmates A Cross-Cultural Contribution.» Criminal Justice and Behavior 39.9 (2012): 1219-1239.
Martínez, Víctor Company, and Antonio Andrés-Pueyo. «The Spanish version of the Criminal Sentiment Scale Modified (CSS-M): Factor structure, reliability, and validity.» The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context 7.2 (2015): 67-72.
Cognitive basis of unwarranted beliefs
The term “epistemologically unwarranted beliefs” refers to beliefs that remain in the absence of empirical evidence to support them, such as paranormal or pseudoscientific beliefs. These phenomena negatively impact in areas of great importance for our society such as health, education or political debate. Previous studies have linked the presence of epistemologically unwarranted beliefs to certain cognitive aspects. Knowing the cognitive basis of this type of belief is the basis for the design of effective intervention strategies specifically aimed at its reduction. Our current work, developed in the context of the project PID2019-106102GB-I00 (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación), focuses on different research lines:
 The development of tools specifically designed to assess different types of unwarranted beliefs, as well as the study of their relationship with other related constructs, such as analytical thinking ability or probabilistic reasoning, among others.
 The study of the possible relationship between the tendency to generate false memories and the presence of pseudoscientific beliefs.
 The analysis of the relationship between causal illusion and the presence of pseudoscientific beliefs.
 The assessment of the possible influence of lexical complexity on credulity, in relation to unwarranted beliefs.
We conduct both offline and online behavioral experiments that include contingency learning tasks, psycholinguistic paradigms, false memory studies, and reasoning problems, as well as questionnaires measuring endorsement to pseudoscience and other unwarranted beliefs.
Keywords: cognitive bias, pseudoscience, epistemologically unwarranted beliefs, pseudoscientific beliefs, causal illusion, false memory, contingency learning, causal learning
Barberia, I., Vadillo, M. A., & Rodríguez-Ferreiro, J. (2019). Persistence of Causal Illusions After Extensive Training. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 24. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00024
Blanco, F., Barberia, I., & Matute, H. (2015). Individuals who believe in the paranormal expose themselves to biased information and develop more causal illusions than nonbelievers in the laboratory. PLoS ONE, 10(7), e0131378. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0131378
Rodríguez-Ferreiro, J., Aguilera, M., & Davies, R. (2020). Positive schizotypy increases the acceptance of unpresented materials in false memory tasks in non-clinical individuals. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 262.https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00262
Torres, M. N., Barberia, I., & Rodríguez‐Ferreiro, J. (2020). Causal illusion as a cognitive basis of pseudoscientific beliefs. British Journal of Psychology, bjop.12441. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12441
A.P.A.L. Group (Attention, Perception and Acquisition of Language)
Our research is focused on speech perception abilities, word learning, attention development and early language acquisition processes, both in normally developing infants (monolingual and bilingual) and in infants at risk for language and neurocognitive disorders. We are also interested in Second Language Acquisition (SLA), both in children and adults. Our methodological approach is mainly behavioral, with procedures that rely on attention, visual fixation and orientation latency or reaction time measures. Classical habituation and familiarization-preference paradigms in infancy research are used, with settings that rely on video (offline coding) and eye-tracking recordings. Measures from standardized infant developmental scales and parental reports on expressive and receptive language and social behavior are also used as tools in our research. Collaborative research with A. Rodriguez-Fornells group has extended our approach to include EEG/ERP methodologies applied to infants and young children. Language differentiation processes, audiovisual speech perception, phonetic categorization of native and non-native speech sounds, the beginning of word segmentation, phonological encoding, word recognition and word learning skills are ongoing areas of research in our infant Lab (UB – Hospital Sant Joan de Déu). Research involving children and adult populations can be undertaken at schools and at the UB Lab in Psychology.
Keywords: infant speech, perception, attention, word learning, SLA
Birulés, J., Bosch, L., Brieke, R., Pons, F., & Lewkowicz, D. J. (2019). Inside bilingualism: Language background modulates selective attention to a talker’s mouth. Developmental science, 22(3), e12755.
François, C., Teixidó, M., Takerkart, S., Agut, T., Bosch, L. & Rodríguez-Fornells, A. (2017). Enhanced neonatal brain responses to sung streams predict vocabulary outcomes by age 18 months. Scientific Reports, 7:12451. DOI.10.1038/s41598-017-12798-2
Martinez-Alvarez, A., Pons, F., & de Diego-Balaguer, R. (2017). Endogenous temporal attention in the absence of stimulus-driven cues emerges in the second year of life. PloS one, 12(9), e0184698.
Pons, F., Bosch, L., & Lewkowicz, D. J. (2015). Bilingualism modulates infants’ selective attention to the mouth of a talking face. Psychological science, 0956797614568320.
Bosch, L., & Ramon-Casas, M. (2014). First translation equivalents in bilingual toddlers’ expressive vocabulary. Does form similarity matter? International Journal of Behavioral Development, 38(4), 317-322.
Bosch, L. (2011). Precursors to language in preterm infants: speech perception abilities in the first year of life. Progress in brain research, 189, 239-257.
Neurobiology of Cognitive Abilities and Personality
My research aims at identifying the neuroanatomical basis of human cognition. I have mainly paid attention to the relationship between the brain and cognitive abilities (i.e., neural correlates of intelligence and related processes, as well as of spontaneous or training-elicited changes in cognitive performance), but also to the neural markers of personality, language acquisition/bilingualism and social cognition. In common to all my works it is possible to observe two main characteristics: A focus on individual differences –what is it that makes us different?-, and the use and advanced analysis of magnetic resonance imaging aimed at disentangling how the structural properties of the brain (as opposed to its function) may account for such interindividual variability. These properties include gray matter morphology at the cortical and subcortical levels, as well as the integrity of brain connections in the white matter.
Keywords: cognitive neuroscience, magnetic resonance imaging, intelligence, personality, cognitive training
M. Burgaleta, A. Sanjuán, N. Ventura-Campos, N. Sebastian-Galles, C. Ávila (2016). Bilingualism at the core of the brain. Structural differences between bilinguals and monolinguals revealed by subcortical shape analysis. NeuroImage. 125, pp. 437 – 445.
H. Santamaria-Garcia, M. Burgaleta, N. Sebastian-Galles (2015). Neuroanatomical Markers of Social Hierarchy Recognition in Humans: A Combined ERP/MRI Study. The Journal of Neuroscience. 35 – 30, pp. 10843 – 10850
M. Burgaleta, P. A. MacDonald, K. Martínez, F. J. Román, J. Álvarez-Linera, A. Ramos González, S. Karama, R. Colom (2014). Subcortical regional morphology correlates with fluid and spatial intelligence. Human Brain Mapping 35(5):1957-68
M. Burgaleta, W. Johnson, D. Waber, R. Colom, S. Karama (2014). Cognitive ability changes and dynamics of cortical thickness development in healthy children and adolescents. NeuroImage 84:810-9.
M. Burgaleta, C. Baus, B. Diaz, N. Sebastian-Galles (2014). Brain structure is related to speech perception abilities in bilinguals. Brain Structure and Function 219(4):1405-16
Delineating fronto-striatal circuits in Huntington’s disease: a multimodal neuroimaging approach
Converging data support the idea that the striatum forms a hub and integrates motor, cognitive control, and motivational circuits, which partially overlap and interact one with each other. There are individual differences in the degree of damage of these circuits in Huntington’s disease (HD), a genetic neurodegenerative disorder that manifests in mid-adulthood. The neurodegeneration in HD begins subcortically in the striatum and gradually extends to the cortex, leading to a progression of characteristic motor, cognitive and psychiatric symptoms. There is a high degree of phenotypic heterogeneity regarding the prominence of each type of symptom. To investigate the relationship between the different degree of neurodegeneration in each circuit and the clinical symptoms we used a combination of different magnetic resonance imaging modalities (functional and microstrucural), as well as a battery of questionnaires and neurological, neuropsychological and psychiatric assessments. Specifically, we are interested in investigating sources of individual differences in each symptom prominence by the delineation of the functional specialization of the striatum and their relation with specific cortico-striatal pathways in HD patients and controls.
Keywords: Huntigton’s disease, individual differences, basal ganglia, neuroimaging, fMRI, DTI
García-Gorro, C., de Diego-Balaguer, R., Martínez-Horta, S., Pérez-Pérez, J., Kulisevsky, J., Rodríguez-Dechichá, N., Vaquer, I., Subira, S., Calopa, M., Muñoz, E., Santacruz, P., Ruiz-Idiago, J., Mareca, C., Caballol, N., Càmara, E. (2018). Reduced striato-cortical and inhibitory transcallosal connectivity in the motor circuit of Huntington’s disease patients. Human Brain Mapping. 39(1):54-71
Hinzen, W., Rosselló, J., Morey, C., Càmara, E., García-Gorro, C., Salvador, R., de Diego-Balaguer, R. (2018). A systematic linguistic profile of spontaneous narrative speech in pre-symptomatic and early stage Huntington’s disease. Cortex. 100:71-83
García-Gorro, C., Càmara, E., de Diego-Balaguer, R. (2017). Neuroimaging as a tool to study the sources of phenotypic heterogeneity in Huntington’s disease. Current Opinion in Neurology. 30(4):398-404
Garcia-Gorro, C., Garau-Rolandi, M., Escrichs, A., Rodriguez-Dechicha, N., Vaquer, I., Subira, S., … & Càmara, E. (2019). An active cognitive lifestyle as a potential neuroprotective factor in Huntington’s disease. Neuropsychologia, 122, 116-124.
Cognition, Welfare and Conservation
Álvaro López Caicoya(UB)
Jordi Galbany (UB)
Maria Teresa Abelló (Zoo Barcelona)
We are interested in studying social behavior and physical/social cognition in different species, from primates (great apes, cercopithecines) to other mammals (ungulates, ex. giraffes, buffalo…), birds (ex. parrots and ravens) and reptiles (ex. Komodo Dragon). We keep an ethological perspective of study, so we always take into account the adaptive and evolutionary value of the behaviors that we study and we tried to apply the knowledge gathered in our researches to improve animal welfare and favor the development of conservation strategies in situ and ex situ.
At this moment we have three projects in progress: “Cognition in ungulates”; “Play therapy applied to great apes welfare”; “Conservation in situ and ex situ of Cercocebus atys lunulatus”.
We conduct our studies in collaboration with several institutions and research groups: Zoo of Barcelona, Psittacus Catalònia, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA, Germany), WAPCA (Ghana), Zoo of Leipzig (Germany); Zoo of Madrid; Zoo of Accra (Ghana).
Keywords: comparative ethology, primatology, physical cognition, laterality, social cognition, self- recognition, imitation, tool use, reciprocity, post-conflict behaviour, animal welfare, enrichment, primate conservation.
Caicoya, Á. L., Amici, F., Ensenyat, C., & Colell, M. 2019. Object permanence in Giraffa camelopardalis: First steps in giraffes’ physical cognition. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 133(2), 207.
Marín, H.; Chaves, A.B.; Posada, S.; Colell, M. 2017. Vertical string-pulling in green jays (Cyanocorax yncas). Behavioural Processes. 140, pp.74-80. Elsevier B.V. ISSN 0376-6357 Chaves, A.B.; Colell, M. 2017. String-pulling in Martin’s spot-nosed monkey (Cercopithecus nictitans martini): evidence of physical continuity understanding. Behaviour. 154, pp. 719-740. E.J. Brill. ISSN 0005-7959
Amici, F; Colell, M; Von Borrell, C; Bueno-Guerra, N. 2017. Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) fail to
prosocially donate food in an experimental set-up. Animal Cognition. 20(6), pp. 1059-1066.
Springer Verlag. ISSN 1435-9448
Bueno-Guerra, N.; Leiva, D.; Colell, M.; Call, J. 2016. Do sex and age affect strategic behavior
and inequity aversion in children? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 150, pp.285-300. Elsevier. ISSN 0022-0965
Executive Functions / Language Learning and Processing
My main area of interest is cognitive neuroscience. More specifically, I work on two main topics, a) executive functions and, b) language learning and processing.
A. Executive Functions
1. Inhibitory function: I investigate how and when the cognitive brain is able to inhibit an action or how it reacts to withhold/withdraw a preponderant response. For this purpose, I use the approach of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), a well-known neuromodulatory technique, together with EEG/ERP methodologies, to see the effects of the engagement of certain brain networks on behavior. There is an applied part of this research focused on how the inhibitory function is altered in eating disorders.
B. Language Learning and Processing
2. Statistical Language Learning: I study the neural based and cognitive mechanisms recruited to success in the initial stages of learning a second language during the adulthood. My research is focused in the mechanism known as Statistical Learning. I have investigated different but related learning situations in which statistical learning can explain how we successfully learn the regularities embedded in the speech signal.
Keywords: Executive Functions. Response inhibition. Statistical learning.
Cunillera T, Brignani D, Cucurell D, Fuentemilla L, Miniussi C. (2016). The right inferior frontal cortex in response inhibition: A tDCS-ERP co-registration study. Neuroimage, 140, 66-75.
Cunillera T, Càmara E, Toro JM, Marco-Pallares J, Sebastián-Galles N, Ortiz H, Pujol J, Rodríguez- Fornells A. (2009). Time course and functional neuroanatomy of speech segmentation in adults. Neuroimage, 48, 541-553.
Brain Mechanisms of Language Learning
Ruth de Diego Balaguer
Language disorders are prevalent in infancy and can last until adulthood. In addition, many brain lesions can be accompanied with speech and language disorders. In all those cases, the quality of life of individuals is largely affected since language is our main communication tool and the vehicle of our social interactions. Understanding the factors that can affect language disabilities or can improve them is thus essential. This research project studies how attention can be one of the key functions that can hinder or improve language abilities. It combines the use of different neuroimaging techniques and the study of healthy individuals, children with developmental disabilities and patients with brain lesions in different key structures that are related to attention to understand how this function interacts with language processing during learning. The project uses a combination of neuroimaging techniques on these different populations of individuals with the aim to pinpoint the different brain circuits involved and the mechanisms that enable their interaction.
Keywords: Language, Attention, Learning, Event-related potentials, Magnetic resonance, Neuropsychology
Orpella J, Ripolles P, Ruzzoli M, Amengual JL, Callejas A, Martinez-Alvarez A, Soto-Faraco S, de Diego-Balaguer R. (2020). Integrating When and What Information in the Left Parietal Lobe Allows Language Rule Generalization. PLoS Biology. 18: e3000895. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000895
Assaneo F.*, Ripollés P.*, Orpella J.*, Ming Lin W., de Diego-Balaguer R.+, Poeppel D.+ (2019). Spontaneous synchronization to speech reveals neural mechanisms facilitating language learning. Nature Neuroscience. 22(4):627-632. (*equally contributed; +joint supervision)
López-Barroso, D., and de Diego-Balaguer, R. (2017). Language Learning Variability within the Dorsal and Ventral Streams as a Cue for Compensatory Mechanisms in Aphasia Recovery. Front. Hum. Neurosci.11, 1–7. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00476.
López-Barroso D., Cucurell D., Rodriguez-Fornells A., de Diego-Balaguer R. (2016). Attentional effects on rule extraction and consolidation from speech. Cognition, 152: 61-69
De Diego-Balaguer R., Martinez-Alvarez A., Pons F. (2016). Temporal attention as a scaffold for language development. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1664.
Citizenship as Mental Health
Francisco Jose Eiroá Orosa
The citizenship framework is an emerging trend in the fields of mental health and social inclusion. We can define citizenship as a measure of the strength of the connection of people with five dimensions (5Rs in English): rights; responsibilities; the roles and resources that society offers them; and relationships, which involve close bonds, supportive social networks, and community living. After various theoretical developments, instruments have been designed to measure individuals’ connection with the various dimensions of citizenship, and interventions have been designed to help practitioners work from this paradigm.
The main objective of this research line is to demonstrate how mental health is tied to citizenship, and to help professionals understanding wellbeing and distress in the context of social rights and responsibilities, to move towards a rights-based mental health practice by means of integrating multiple disciplinary views and methods. Based on this general objective, the project has four specific objectives: a) Explore the concept of citizenship together with service users’, relatives’ and professionals’ organisations, b) validate a Citizenship measure within the Spanish context using participatory research methods, c) develop a manual with an awareness methodology that can be scaled to other territories and specific health professionals target groups, d) implement awareness interventions with healthcare professional in real clinical settings.
The dissemination of the results of this project both in specialized audiences and in the field of healthcare and the general population will contribute to the reduction of the social stigma suffered by people diagnosed with a mental disorder.
Keywords: Awareness, Citizenship, Mental health, Participatory research, Randomised controlled trial
Eiroa-Orosa, F. J. (2023). Citizenship as mental health. A study protocol for a randomised trial of awareness interventions for mental health professionals. Journal of Public Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-09-2022-0089
Eiroa-Orosa, F. J. (2023). Beyond recovery: toward rights-based mental health care — A cluster randomized wait-list controlled trial of a recovery and rights training for mental health professionals with or without first person accounts. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1152581
Eiroa-Orosa, F. J., & MacIntyre, G. (2023). From individual to collective: bridging the gap between clinical practice and public policies. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1169159
Sanchez‐Moscona, C., & Eiroa‐Orosa, F. J. (2021). Training mental health peer support training facilitators: a qualitative, participatory evaluation. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 30(1), 261–273. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12781
Eiroa-Orosa, F. J., & García-Mieres, H. (2019). A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Recovery Educational Interventions for Mental Health Professionals. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 46(6), 724–752. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-019-00956-9
The Brainlab (www.ub.edu/brainlab; @Brainlab_UB) is an Excellence Research Group (SGR20117-974) that belongs to the Institute of Neurosciences of University of Barcelona and to the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute (IRSJD). We offer a multidisciplinary (psychologist, biologists, engineers) and multicultural atmosphere to carry out a Master’s thesis project in the field of auditory cognitive neuroscience, with the possibility to use electrophysiological (EEG), behavioral (eye-tracking, psychophysics), neuroimaging (MRI) and genetic approaches, in adult as well as in newborn populations.
Brainlab (1/5) – Subcortical encoding of speech sounds in adults and newborns PI: Carles Escera
In the Subcortical encoding of speech sounds in adults and newborns research line (PI: Carles Escera), we aim at investigating how the sounds of human language are encoded in the auditory system and what are the modulating factors that shape this encoding, from experience-dependent plasticity and environmental to genetics. We employ a fascinating auditory evoked potential called Frequency-Following Response (FFR), which reflect compound neuronal activity in the ascending auditory pathway to cortex that is phase-locked to the spectrotemporal components of the acoustic signal, so that it faithfully mimics the eliciting stimulus. Using the FFR, our lab has shown predictive coding in the subcortical auditory system, the influence of the serotonin transporter gen in efficient speech-sound encoding, and that timing predictability enhances repetition suppression at subcortical level. The master projects will lie within this line, with the possibility to enroll in adult and even newborn recordings, and the opportunity to join an internationally reputed site for auditory cognitive neuroscience training and a thriving research environment. Check www.ub.edu/brainlab for ongoing specific projects and further details.
Keywords: Auditory evoked potentials, Frequency-Following Response (FFR), auditory perception, speech and language disorders
Slabu, L., Grimm, S., & Escera, C. (2012). Novelty detection in the human auditory brainstem. Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 1447-1452.
Recasens, M., Grimm, S, Capilla, A., Nowak, R., & Escera, C. (2014). Two sequential processes of change detection in hierarchically ordered areas of the human auditory cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 24, 143-153.
Selinger, L., Zarnowiek, K., Via, M., Clemente, I.C., Escera, C. (2016). Involvement of the serotonin transporter gene in accurate subcortical speech encoding. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(42), 10782-10790.
Gorina-Careta, N., Zarnowiec, K., Costa-Faidella, J., & Escera, C. (2016). Timing predictability enhances regularity encoding in the human subcortical auditory pathway. Scientific Reports, 6:37405.
Parras, G.G., Nieto-Diego, J., Carbajal, G.V., Valdés-Baizabal, C., Escera. C., & Malmierca, M.S. (2017). Neurons along the auditory pathway exhibit a hierarchical organization of prediction error. Nature Communications, 8, 2148.
Escera, C. (2017). The role of the auditory brain stem in regularity encoding and deviance detection. In: Kraus, N., Anderson, S., White-Schwoch, T., Fay, R. R., and Popper, A. N. (Eds.). The Frequency-following Response: A Window into Human Communication, (pp. 101-121). New York: Springer Nature.
Brainlab (2/5) – Electrophysiology of predictive processes in action-perception interactions and the sense of agency
PI: Iria SanMiguel
Active perception and predictive processing. Everyone is familiar with bistable stimuli like the Rubin vase, which can be perceived either as two faces or a vase. How is it possible that the same sensory stimulation can give rise to different percepts in different occasions? Such phenomena highlight the active nature of perception. The world we perceive is an interpretation of the information that arrives at our senses. A key factor in this interpretative process is prediction. The brain constantly and automatically formulates predictions regarding the sensory input. Sensory responses, and hence perception, are influenced by such predictions. We are interested in understanding the neural mechanisms that support predictive processing, and their effects on perception.
Motor-driven sensory prediction. An important source of sensory predictions is our own motor behaviour. How is it possible that the visual image remains still, despite we are constantly moving our body and our eyes? The solution lies in predictive processing: the sensory consequences of the organisms’ motor actions are predicted by the nervous system, and this prediction is used to compensate the effects of self-action during sensory processing. In our research, we make use motor- driven prediction to study predictive processing in audition. In a typical experiment, participants deliver auditory stimuli to themselves by pressing buttons. Comparing responses to self- and externally-generated sounds we can study the effects of motor-driven prediction in auditory processing.
Agency. How do we recognize ourselves as the agents of certain stimuli in the environment, when there is nothing that can differentiate such stimuli from other stimuli that we did not cause ourselves? The sensation of agency may arise from the effects of motor-driven sensory predictions on sensory processing. That is, whenever a sensation is cancelled out by a motor prediction, we may feel that we were the agent causing the stimulation. We are interested in understanding the precise relationship between motor-driven sensory predictions and the sensation of agency.
Keywords: Predictive coding, sense of agency, EEG, ERPs, motor control, sensorimotor processes, perception
Schröger, Marzecová & SanMiguel (2015) Attention and prediction in human audition: a lesson from cognitive psychophysiology. European Journal of Neuroscience, 41(5):641-64.
SanMiguel, Widmann, Bendixen, Trujillo-Barreto & Schröger (2013) Hearing Silences: Human Auditory Processing Relies on Preactivation of Sound-Specific Brain Activity Patterns. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(20):8633-9.
Bendixen, SanMiguel & Schröger (2012) Early electrophysiological indicators for predictive processing in audition: A review. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 83(2):120-31.
Timm, Schönwiesner, Schröger & SanMiguel (2016) Sensory suppression of brain responses to self-generated sounds is observed with and without the perception of agency. Cortex, 80:5-20. Timm J, SanMiguel I, Keil J, Schröger E, Schönwiesner M. (2014). Motor intention determines sensory attenuation of brain responses to self-initiated sounds. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(7):1481-9.
Brainlab (3/5) – Genetic modulators of brain potentials associated to speech and musical processing
PI: Marc Via
In the research line “Genetic modulators of brain potentials associated to speech and musical processing” (PI: Marc Via), we aim at establishing the role of genetic and epigenetic variants in the auditory processing of acoustic stimuli of different nature (speech vs. non-speech, syllables vs. running speech) at different levels of the auditory hierarchy (cortical vs. subcortical stages). In particular, we collect electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings from young healthy participants while conducting different experiments on sound processing. Additionally, we collect saliva samples to analyze genetic and epigenetic markers and behavioral data to measure the ability of participants in pitch discrimination tasks.
Thus, we will identify genetic and epigenetic variants associated to measures of pitch extraction at the subcortical level, through the analysis of subcortical responses to acoustic stimuli of different complexity and to cortical responses to different linguistic and non-linguistic acoustic stimuli. Moreover, we will also assess the role of attentional processes and the ecological validity of the observed associations. Our new view on the molecular mechanisms involved in the cognitive neuroscience of audition, incorporating genetic markers and methylation profiling into the brain mechanisms of auditory cognition, constitute a breakthrough on current views in cognitive neuroscience. Results arising from the project will be relevant for specialists in very diverse fields (e.g. neurophysiology, molecular genetics and epigenetics, acoustics, or psycholinguistics) and may also lead to approaches to understand the pathophysiology of disorders such as dyslexia or language specific impairment.
Keywords: EEG, FFR, genetics, epigenetics, audition, music, language
Garcia-Garcia, M., Via, M., Zarnowiec, K., SanMiguel, I., Escera, C., Clemente, I.C. (2017). COMT and DRD2/ANKK-1 gene-gene interaction account for resetting of gamma neural oscillations to auditory stimulus-driven attention. PLoS One, 12(2), e0172362.
Selinger, L., Zarnowiek, K., Via, M., Clemente, I.C., Escera, C. (2016). Involvement of the serotonin transporter gene in accurate subcortical speech encoding. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(42), 10782-10790.
Brainlab (4/5) – Threat processing in the auditory system
PI: Judith Domínguez-Borràs
Fast and efficient detection of threats is critical for survival. This process is largely dependent on existing neural connections between the sensory systems and the amygdala, a structure in the temporal lobe with a major role in emotion. An intriguing question is how the amygdala receives those sensory inputs in order to trigger a prompt emotional response. In humans, the study of the neural pathways for emotion detection has been largely dedicated to vision, but much less to audition. In this research line we aim at studying the neural pathways for threat detection and perception in the auditory system and the amygdala. We use a variety of techniques, including electroencephalography (EEG) and (functional) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and different experimental approaches, such as fear conditioning.
Keywords: Emotion, audition, amygdala, EEG, MRI, fMRI
Guex, R., Ros, T., Mégevand, P., Spinelli, L., Seeck, M., Vuilleumier, P., Domínguez-Borràs, J. (2022). Prestimulus amygdala spectral activity is associated with visual face awareness. Cerebral Cortex, bhac119.
Moyne, M., Legendre, G., Arnal, L., Kumar, S., Sterpenich, V., Seeck, M., Grandjean, D., Schwartz, S., Vuilleumier, P., Domínguez-Borràs, J. (2022). Brain reactivity to emotion persists in NREM sleep and is associated with individual dream recall. Cerebral Cortex Communications, 3(1): tgac003.
Domínguez-Borràs, J., Vuilleumier, P. (2022). Amygdala function in emotion, cognition, and behavior. In G. Miceli, P. Bartolomeo, & V. Navarro (Eds.), The temporal lobe. Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 187:359-380. Elsevier Science Publishers.
Domínguez-Borràs, J., Guex, R., Méndez-Bértolo, C., Legendre, G., Spinelli, L., Moratti, S., Frühholz, S., Mégevand, P., Arnal, L., Strange, B., Seeck, M., Vuilleumier, P. (2019). Human amygdala response to unisensory and multisensory emotion input: no evidence of superadditivity from intracranial recordings. Neuropsychologia, 131, 9-24.
Brainlab (5/5) – Cerebellum and audio-motor interaction
PI: Jordi Costa-Faidella
In the research line “Cerebellum and audio-motor interaction” (PI: Jordi Costa-Faidella), we aim at deciphering the role of the cerebellum, a particularly understudied structure from the point of view of its electrodynamics, in the control of sound pitch perception and production. To do so, we will optimize non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and data processing to reveal cerebellar activity during the perception of pitched sounds as well as during procedural learning tasks in which healthy participants will learn to control the pitch of sounds with their motor actions (i.e., learning to play a musical instrument). This research line also offers the possibility to study pitch perception and production mechanisms in patients suffering from spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3; Machado-Joseph disease), a rare affection of the cerebellum, offering a two-sided approach to the study of the role of the cerebellum in audio-motor interaction.
Pitch is a critical feature of sound that conveys prosodic and emotional speech information; lexical information in tonal languages; musical melody; and serves as the primary cue to segregate speakers in noisy environments. Pitch perception and fine-tuned production control are thus of the essence in language and musical development. The neural representation of sound pitch appears to be so relevant that is already developed in newborns. In this research line we focus on the periodicity of the sound signal, that is, it’s regularity in time, and the neural representation by phase-locked neuronal activity (i.e., entrained neuronal oscillations), wondering whether the cerebellum will exploit that characteristic to fine tune the integration of neuronal communication across auditory and motor systems.
Keywords: Auditory, EEG, Cerebellum, Neuronal Oscillations, Sensory-Motor integration, Periodicity, Pitch, SCA3
Arenillas-Alcón, S., Costa-Faidella, J., Ribas-Prats, T., Gómez-Roig, M. D., & *Escera, C. (2021). Neural encoding of voice pitch and formant structure at birth as revealed by frequency-following responses. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 6660.
Costa-Faidella, J., Sussman, E. S., & Escera, C. (2017). Selective entrainment of brain oscillations drives auditory perceptual organization. NeuroImage, (159), 195–206.
Costa-Faidella, J., Baldeweg, T., Grimm, S., & Escera, C. (2011). Interactions between “what” and “when” in the auditory system: temporal predictability enhances repetition suppression. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(50), 18590–18597.
Construing Self and Others: Interventions in Clinical and Health Psychology
Our research group (SGR2017-642, see www.ub.edu/ipcs) is aimed at advancing the knowledge in the areas of personality and psychotherapy. We pay particular attention to the study of identity processes, cognitive conflicts, and their role in a variety of change processes. To this aim, personal construct and self-regulation theories (both based on constructivist epistemology) have been important sources of inspiration for both research and practice.
Our work is conducted using methods derived from these approaches, such as textual analysis and the Repertory Grid Technique, with which we can identify conflicts in the cognitive structure of interviewees. These conflicts (or dilemmas) often become a hindrance for the progress either in personal development or in psychotherapy. With these methods we have studied the cognitive structures of people of different conditions (e.g., depression, eating disorders, fibromyalgia, victims of partner violence) and compared them to community and student samples. We have also created some therapy manuals for innovative interventions targeting identity processes and cognitive conflicts, and tested their efficacy and utility in randomized clinical trials. We have adapted and validated instruments for the assessment of the outcome of psychological interventions which can now be used by other researchers and practitioners (e.g., www.ub.edu/terdep/core). We have just finished a randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing the efficacy of systematic case formulation based in personal construct therapy (PCT) with formulations based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the improvement of depressive symptoms of patients with fibromyalgia. Currently, we are beginning another RCT comparing the efficacy of CBT, PCT and PCT enhanced with virtual reality for young adults with mild-to- moderate depression.
Keywords: Personality psychology, constructivism, psychotherapy, counseling, cognitive therapy, systemic therapy, cognitive conflict, self, identity, depression, repertory grid technique.
Moggia, D., Lutz, W., Arndt, A., Feixas, G. (2020). Patterns of change and their relationship to outcome and follow-up in group and individual psychotherapy for depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 88(8), 757–773.
García-Mieres, H., Montesano, A., Villaplana, A., … Feixas, G. (2020). Common and differential dimensions of personal identity between psychosis and depression: The relevance of gender and depressive mood. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 127, 48–56.
Slater, M., Neyret, S., Johnston, T., Iruretagoyena, G., Crespo, M. Á. de la C., Alabèrnia-Segura, M., … Feixas, G. (2019). An experimental study of a virtual reality counselling paradigm using embodied self-dialogue. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 10903.
García‐Mieres, H., Niño‐Robles, N., Ochoa, S., & Feixas, G. (2019). Exploring identity and personal meanings in psychosis using the repertory grid technique: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 26(6), 717–733.
Feixas, G., Paz, C., García-Grau, E., Montesano, A., Medina, J.C., Bados, A., et al. (2018). One-year follow-up of a randomized trial with a dilemma-focused intervention for depression: Exploring an alternative to problem-oriented strategies. PLoS ONE 13(12): e0208245.
Dynamics of Memory Formation
How do we form lasting memories of our everyday experiences? We want to understand how experiences are initially encoded, undergo further consolidation and are later retrieved. We use behavioural (including Eye movements), psychophysiological (Skin Conductance) and neural (fMRI, EEG, iEEG) measures to help us learn more about the cognitive and neural operations that contribute to episodic memory. We further extend our investigation to neurological patients, in special those with lesions in medial temporal lobe regions.
In concrete, current topics of interest, and examples of related projects, include:
1) Brain mechanisms of how discrete episodic memories are formed
2) Brain mechanisms of how prior knowledge influences the formation of new memories
3) How memory reactivation supports memory formation and memory retrieval
4) The study of memory processes for autobiographical events collected individually through portable cameras
Keywords: memory, hippocampus, EEG, neural oscillations
Fuentemilla L, Miró J, Falip M, Ripollés P, Juncadella M, Castañer S, Rodríguez-Fornells A (2013). Hippocampus-dependent strengthening of targeted memories via reactivation during sleep in humans. Current Biology 23:1769-75.
Fuentemilla L, Penny WD, Bunzeck N, Cashdollar N, Düzel E (2010). Theta coupled periodic replay in working memory. Current Biology 20:606-612.
Griffiths, B.J., Fuentemilla, Ll. (In Press). Event conjunction: How the hippocampus integrates episodic memories across event boundaries. PsyArxiv.
Jafarpour, A., Fuentemilla, L., Horner, A., Penny, W.D., Düzel, E. (2014). Replay of very early encoding representations during recollection. The Journal of Neuroscience. 1:242-8
Packard PA, Rodríguez-Fornells A, Stein LM, Nicolás B, Fuentemilla L (2014).Tracking explicit and implicit long-lasting traces of fearful memories in humans. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 116:96- 104.
Silva, M., Baldassano, C., Fuentemilla, Ll. (In Press). Rapid memory reactivation at movie event boundaries promotes episodic encoding. Journal of Neuroscience.
Sols, I., DuBrow, S., Davachi, L., Fuentemilla, Ll. (2017). Event Boundaries Trigger Rapid Memory Reinstatement of the Prior Events to Promote Their Representation in Long-Term Memory. Current Biology. 27(22):3499-3504.
Person-Environment transactions and Individual Differences
Why we behave in a certain way or another? It is an axiom in behavioral sciences that behavior is a function of personal characteristics and the environment [B=f(P,E)]. However, little research has been conducted taking into account both elements of the equation for over hundred years. We aim to understand how individual differences operate and cause behavior depending on specific contexts. To this end, we conduct different experiments and collect data at multiple levels (genes, brain function, individual differences in personality and cognitive abilities, social and cultural). We combine these data with the latest analytic approaches within the framework of person-environment transactions. This academic year we are specifically interested in 1) how situational pressures interact with individual differences on moral decision-making; and 2) how situations are differentially perceived across cultures.
Keywords: Personality, Individual Differences, Culture, Brain Structure, Geolocation, Structural Equation Models, Person-Environment Transactions.
Gallardo-Pujol, D.; Maydeu-Olivares, A.; & Andrés-Pueyo (2013). An experimental test of a gene-environment interaction: MAOA genotype, social exclusion and aggression. Genes, Brain & Behavior. 12(1);140-145. DOI: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2012.00868.x
Guillaume, E., Baranski, E., Todd, E., Bastian, B., Bronin, I., Ivanova, C., Cheng, J.T., de Kock, F.S., Denissen, J.J.A., Gallardo-Pujol, D., Halama, Pl, Han, G.Q., Bae, J., Moon, J., Hong, R.Y., Hřebíčková, M., Graf, S., Izdebski, P., Lundmann, L., Penke, L., Perugini, M., Costantini, G., Rauthmann, J., Ziegler, M., Realo, A., Elme, L., Sato, T., Kawamoto, S., Szarota, P., Tracy, J.L., van Aken, M.A.G., Yang, Y., & Funder, D.C. (2015, May 7th). The world at 7: Comparing the experience of situations across 20 countries. Journal of Personality. DOI: 10.1111/jopy.12176
Pascual, L.; Rodrigues, P.; & Gallardo-Pujol, D. (2013). How does morality work in the brain? A structural perspective of moral behavior. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 7;65. DOI: 10.3389/fnint.2013.00065
Rauthman, J.F.; Gallardo-Pujol, D.; Guillaume, E.M.; Todd, E.; Nave, C.; Sherman, R.A.; Ziegler, M.; Jones, A.B. & Funder, D.C. (2014). The Situational Eight DIAMONDS: A taxonomy of major dimensions of situation characteristics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(4), 677-718.
Validation of psychological tests
Psychological measurement instruments play an important role in research, clinical practice and educational and health assessment. Measurement involves assigning scores to individuals so that they represent some characteristic of them. But how do we know that the scores actually represent that characteristic? In addition, measurement implies drawing conclusions about individuals. But how do we know that our conclusions are fair for them? To answer these and other questions about the quality of psychological tests, their psychometric properties in terms of reliability and validity evidence should be explored.
This research line is focused on the evaluation of psychometric properties of several psychological tests, using classical test theory and advanced methodology to do so. This academic year we are especially interested in the: a) validation of the Pure Procrastination Scale (PPS) in the framework vof Item Response Theory models; b) reliability generalization meta-analysis of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS); and c) development of normative data of the Screen for Cognitive Impairment in Psychiatry in elderly people. However, we are open to new ideas and challenges. Share yours with us!
Keywords: psychometrics; test-retest reliability; internal consistency; validity evidence; factor analysis; meta-analysis.
Gómez‐Benito, J., Berrío, Á. I., Guilera, G., Rojo, E., Purdon, S., & Pino, O. (2018). The Screen for Cognitive Impairment in Psychiatry: Proposal for a polytomous scoring system. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 27(3), e1598.
Guilera, G., Barrios, M., Penelo, E., Morin, C., Steel, P., & Gómez-Benito, J. (2018). Validation of the Spanish version of the Irrational Procrastination Scale (IPS). PloS One, 13(1), e0190806.
Guilera, G., Gómez-Benito, J., Pino, Ó., Rojo, E., Vieta, E., Cuesta, M. J., … & Martínez-Arán, A. (2015). Disability in bipolar I disorder: the 36-item World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0. Journal of Affective Disorders, 174, 353-360.
Guilera, G., Pereda, N., Paños, A., & Abad, J. (2015). Assessing resilience in adolescence: The Spanish adaptation of the Adolescent Resilience Questionnaire. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 13(1), 1.
Pereda, N., Gallardo-Pujol, D., & Guilera, G. (2018). Good practices in the assessment of victimization: The Spanish adaptation of the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire. Psychology of Violence, 8(1), 76.
Neurolinguistics, Multilingualism and Cognition
1. Bilingualism and decision-making1. Would you kill one person to save five? Even if it were for a greater good, many people would find the action of killing someone incompatible with their morality… UNLESS… they face this dilemma in their foreign language. Difficult as it may be to believe, it has been consistently found that most of us tend to make more utilitarian decisions when using our foreign language. In addition, this “foreign language effect” seems to go beyond moral choices. For instance, using a foreign language reduces risk aversion in decision-making contexts: risks appear smaller. But, how could our choices depend on whether we made them in our native tongue or foreign language? It has been proposed that a foreign language increases the psychological distance with certain contents. However, the answer to this question remains, in fact, unclear. Indeed, this is one of the most controversial and hotly debated current questions in the fields of cognitive neuroscience of language, neuroeconomics and multilingualism.
2. Mechanisms of “bilingual language control” (bLC)2. Cases of bilingual neurological patients who lost control of their languages have evidenced how much bilinguals depend on bLC––e.g., patent AH (reported by Abutalebi et al. (2000). Neurocase) could not help mixing English and Italian: “I cannot communicare con you; Oggi I cannot say il mio nome to you; I’m a disastro today.” This type of patients is rather scarce. Hence, bLC has been typically studied with healthy bilinguals, using the so-called language-switching paradigm. Studies with this paradigm have revealed that the efficiency of bLC mechanisms may vary on a number of factors related with the individuals’ bilingual language history as well as non-linguistic mechanisms of cognitive control. Determining what these factors are and how they interact would represent a major contribution in the field of cognitive neuroscience of language and multilingualism.
3. The benefits of bilingualism in general cognition3. It seems that bLC mechanisms partially overlap with general cognition. Many researchers have proposed that the constant need of bilinguals of applying bLC would result in them being over-trained (compared to monolinguals) in general cognition––to the point of even delaying the onset of the earliest symptoms of dementia. However, it remains to be determined what specific aspects of general cognition become benefited by bilingualism.
1 Hayakawa S., Costa A., Foucart, A., & Keysar, B. (2016). Using a Foreign Language Changes Our Choices. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(11), 791–793.
2 Bobb, S. C., & Wodniecka, Z. (2013). Language switching in picture naming: What asymmetric switch costs (do not) tell us about inhibition in bilingual speech planning. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25(5), 568–585.
3 Yow, W. Q., & Li, X. (2015). Balanced bilingualism and early age of second language acquisition as the underlying mechanisms of a bilingual executive control advantage: why variations in bilingual experiences matter. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:164.
Primate Behaviour, Ecology and Cognition
My research focuses on the behaviour and ecology of chimpanzees and other primates in the wild and in captivity, and the implications these have for understanding human behaviour and evolution. My research involves several areas of the behavioural sciences: primatology, ethology, primate archaeology, anthropology and comparative psychology. I work on two main research lines:
A) Behavioural ecology of savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and other primates
The main goals of this research are 1) to understand how the ecological characteristics of savanna habitats influence the behaviour of primates, 2) how their behaviour differs from that of conspecifics living in more forested habitats, and 3) especially in the case of chimpanzees and baboons (Papio spp.), to help modelling the possible behaviour and adaptations of early hominins who lived in similar habitats. Opportunities are offered to do fieldwork and/or analyse already collected data or video footage from camera traps under the Research and Conservation Project run by the Jane Goodall Institute Spain in Senegal (https://www.janegoodallsenegal.org/research) or in collaboration with the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
B) Captive primate research
The main goal of this research is to contribute to our understanding of the evolution of human behaviour through conducting (non-invasive) cognition experiments and behavioural studies with captive primates. Opportunities are offered to collect data in captive settings or to analyse video footage in collaboration with the Kristiansand Zoo (Norway) as well as with other zoos. There is also potential to contribute to studies for the project ManyPrimates https://manyprimates.github.io, a large scale international collaboration in comparative primate cognition research (including more than 12 institutions around the world), of which I am a member.
ManyPrimates, including Hernandez-Aguilar R. A. (2019) Establishing an infrastructure for collaboration in primate cognition research. Plos One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223675.
Motes-Rodrigo, A., Majlesi, P., Pickering, T. R., Laska, M., Axelsen, H., Minchin, T. C., Tennie, C. & Hernandez-Aguilar R. A. (2019) Chimpanzee extractive foraging with excavating tools: Experimental modeling of the origins of human technology. Plos One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0215644
Haslam, M., Hernandez-Aguilar R. A., Ling, V., Carvalho, S., de la Torre, I., DeStefano, A., Du, A., Hardy, B., Harris, J., Marchant, L. F., Matsuzawa, T., McGrew, W., Mercader, J., Mora, R., Petraglia, M., Roche, H., Visalberghi, E., Warren, R. (2009) Primate Archaeology. Nature 460:339-334.
Hernandez-Aguilar R. A., Moore, J. & Pickering, T. R. (2007) Savanna chimpanzees use tools to harvest the underground storage organs of plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 104:19210- 19213.
Computational Neuroscience, Machine Learning and Computer Vision
Matthias S. Keil
My principal research interest is to understand how the visual system of the human brain and insects process and interpret real-world stimuli. For example, stimuli could comprise gray level images for brightness perception, or video sequences for motion perception. My methods are mathematical modeling and computer simulations. A typical of my models complies with two goals: (1) ability to process real-world stimuli, and (2) predict psychophysical and/or neurophysiological results. In this way, is my research connected to computer vision and biologically-inspired image processing algorithms, respectively. My models use adaptive mechanisms and innovative learning methods, and in this way connect to deep learning. A new research line aims at reducing the time and number of learning examples of deep learning methods with new learning paradigms,
Topics that I have been working on include human brightness/lightness perception, information processing in the retina (dynamic range reduction, predictive coding, luminance encoding), information processing with syncytia, analog and unconventional computing, face perception, optical flow, time-to contact perception and collision thread detection.
Keywords: Computational Neuroscience, Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Mathematical Modeling, Dynamic Systems, Computer Simulations, Unconventional Computation, Image Processing, Predictive Coding.
Keil M. Dendritic pooling of noisy threshold processes can explain many properties of a collision- sensitive visual neuron,” PLoS Computational Biology, vol. 11, no. 10, p. e1004479, 2015. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004479.
Keil M and López-Moliner J. Unifying time to contact estimation and collision avoidance across species. PLoS Computational Biology, vol. 8, no. 8, p. e1002625, 2012. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002625.
Keil M. ‘I Look in Your Eyes, Honey’: Internal face features induce spatial frequency preference for human face processing. PLoS Computational Biology, vol. 5, no. 3, p. e10003290, 2009. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000329;
Keil M. Gradient representations and the perception of luminosity. Vision Research, vol. 47, pp. 3360–3372, 2007. Also available at http://arxiv.org/abs/0709.3237.
Dyadic Data Analysis
Dyads are the most basic configuration or relationship in a group and they represent the unit of analysis adopted in most interpersonal interaction studies. Many social researchers have focused on dyadic dependence in explaining social interaction. Thus, dyad is the unit of analysis for the study of social interaction and, similarly, the research of mutual influence is founded on pairs of individuals. Interdependence has, beyond all doubt, constituted the main feature of dyadic data analyses. The study of social interaction is, therefore, the study of nonindependence and any assessment of this interdependence is concerned with the specific type of dyadic design. Here, several designs have been proposed to evaluate nonindependence for distinguishable and non- distinguishable or exchangeable dyads and for several dyadic data structures, including the standard dyadic and the Social Relations Model (SRM) designs.
This research line is related to the development of new statistical techniques for quantifying and testing different social aspects using a dyadic approach and under different dyadic designs. The work to be developed under this line mainly relies on running simulations for assessing statistical properties of estimators and developing statistical tests useful in applied studies. Furthermore, developing statistical programs (preferably under an open-source environment as R) to ease the use of these new procedures by applied researchers in areas as social psychology or ethology, constitutes an important aim of this research line.
Keywords: Dyadic data, dyadic designs, statistical modeling.
Sbragaglia, V., Leiva, D., Arias, A., García, J.A., Aguzzi, J., & Breithaupt, T. (2017). Fighting over burrows: The emergence of dominance hierarchies in the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvergicus). Journal of Experimental Biology, 220, 4624-4633.
Solanas, A., Leiva, D., Salafranca, Ll. (2010). Bias and standard error for social reciprocity measurements. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 63(1), 139-161.
Leiva, D., Solanas, A., Salafranca, Ll. (2008). Testing reciprocity in social interactions: A comparison between the directional consistency and skew-symmetry statistics. Behavior Research Methods, 40(2), 626-634.
Perceptual and decisional processes in complex environments and virtual reality
An ubiquitous process in human daily-life behaviour is deciding between competing actions within complex and rich environments. First, optimal decisional processes depend on people representing different states of the world accurately and reliably. By means of tools rooted in the Statistical Decision Theory, we analyse how human encode different states and whether this encoding is optimal, that is, minimizes the uncertainty. Second, the range of sensory stimulation out there often exceeds by far the operating range of our senses. The nature’s solution to overcome this limitation is adaptation to the changing conditions of stimulation. This allows people to operate optimally across many different sensory conditions. We then study the underlying processes of adaptation in sensory and sensorimotor domains. Third, our actions have consequences on the states of the world. The brain predicts these consequences (forward models) and these predictions can be integrated with the actual sensory feedback to improve the precision with which we perceive the consequences of our actions on the world. We then study how humans combine these predictions with the incoming feedback in the control of our actions. Finally, these action consequences have an associated gain (or reward) or cost. We are interested in the processes that lead to optimal actions or decisions (i.e. maximize expected gain), mainly in changing environmental conditions. We use different methodologies to tackle these problems including psychophysics, eye movements, neural modelling, virtual reality, and neuroimage.
Keywords: decision making in complex environments, perception and action; eye movements; sensory prediction; decision under uncertainty & risk; virtual reality
Linares, D., Aguilar-Lleyda, D., and López-Moliner, J. (2019). Decoupling sensory from decisional choice biases in perceptual decision making. eLife, 8:e43994.
López-Moliner, J. and Brenner, E. (2016). Flexible timing of eye movements when catching a ball. J Vis, 16(5):1–11.
de la Malla, C., and López-Moliner, J. (2015). Predictive plus online visual information optimizes temporal precision in interception, Journal of Experimental Psychology: HPP. DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000075
Kokkinara, E., Slater, M., and López-Moliner, J. (2015). The Effects of Visuomotor Calibration to the Perceived Space and Body, through Embodiment in Immersive Virtual Reality. ACM Transactions on Applied Perception (TAP), 13(1):3.
Single-case designs data analysis
The research line is focused on testing, comparing, and proposing analytical techniques for data obtained through single-case experimental designs. Several aspects define this field of research. First, due to the longitudinal nature of the data and the usual shortness of the data series classical statistical procedures cannot be employed. Second, applied researchers using single-case designs (e.g., behavioral interventions in special education, developmental disabilities) have commonly relied only on visual analysis, not using statistical tools. Third, the amount of data features that can be modeled (initial level, change in level, baseline trend, change in trend, autocorrelation, variation across the cases within a study) has triggered a myriad of proposals, accompanied by a lack of consensus regarding which proposals are optimal. One of the challenges of the field that we are trying to tackle are: to bring the statistical proposals closer to applied researchers, by identifying easily understood, but statistically sound procedures and developing software implementations. Other challenges include the continuous development and testing of already existing or newly proposed analytical techniques, as well as summarizing the evidence on their performance. For that purpose, the research can be formalized in different kinds of papers: proposals, illustrations with published behavioral data, tests via Monte Carlo simulation, discussions. Furthermore, software development and description is another relevant task for making the analytical techniques attractive for applied researchers.
Keywords: single-case designs; effect size, trend, autocorrelation
Manolov, R., Gast, D. L., Perdices, M., & Evans, J. J. (2014). Single-case experimental designs: Reflections on conduct and analysis. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 24(3-4), 634–660. https://doi.org/10.1080/09602011.2014.903199
Manolov, R., & Moeyaert, M. (2017). How can single-case data be analyzed? Software resources, tutorial, and reflections on analysis. Behavior Modification, 41(2), 179–228. https://doi.org/10.1177/0145445516664307
Manolov, R., & Moeyaert, M. (2017). Recommendations for choosing single-case data analytical techniques. Behavior Therapy, 48(1), 97–114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2016.04.008
Manolov, R., & Onghena, P. (2018). Analyzing data from single-case alternating treatments designs. Psychological Methods, 23(3), 480–504. https://doi.org/10.1037/met0000133
Reward and Music
Learning, Reward and Executive Functions
In our everyday live we adapt our behavior on the bases of the results of our actions. Therefore, we repeat those actions that have yielded to a positive outcome or a reward and avoid those actions that lead to negative consequences or punishments. In this research line we are interested in understanding the neural mechanisms underlying these processes. In concrete, we are interested in how the brain is computing the difference between real and expected outcomes (the prediction error) and how this computation is used to change the behavior. We are especially interested in brain oscillatory activity, which seems to play a key role in all these processes. Using different gambling and learning paradigms we aim to understand the role of these oscillatory components in those situations involving learning from external feedback.
Individual Differences in Music Reward
Music has been present in all human cultures since prehistory, although it is not associated with any apparent biological advantages (such as food, sex, etc.) or utility value (such as money). However the exact mechanisms explaining why we do like music are still unknown. In this line of research we are interested in the individual differences associated to music reward. In concrete, we are interested in a condition called “music specific anhedonia” which describes people who do not find music pleasurable, but have interest in other forms of reward (food, sex, money, exercise).
Keywords: reward, music, executive functions, oscillatory activity, EEG, fMRI
Martínez-Molina N, Mas-Herrero E, Rodríguez-Fornells A, Zatorre RJ, Marco-Pallarés J. (2016). Neural correlates of specific musical anhedonia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 113(46): E7337- E7345.
Mas-Herrero, E., Zatorre, R.J., Rodríguez-Fornells, A., Marco-Pallarés, J. (2014). Dissociation between musical and monetary reward responses in specific musical anhedonia. Current Biology. 24:699-704
Alicart H, Cucurell D, Mas-Herrero E, Marco-Pallarés J. (2015). Human oscillatory activity in near- miss events. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. pii: nsv033. [Epub ahead of print]
Marco-Pallarés J, Münte TF, Rodríguez-Fornells A. (2015). The role of high-frequency oscillatory activity in reward processing and learning. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 49:1-7.
Structural Equation Modeling
Alberto Maydeu’s research interest focus on structural equation modeling and item response theory (IRT), and more generally in developing new quantitative methods. His latest research has focused on developing goodness of fit statistics, and on IRT methods for forced-choice items.
Keywords: structural equation modeling, quantitative methods, item response theory
Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2017). Assessing the size of model misfit in structural equation models. Psychometrika, 82(3), 533-558.
Steenkamp, J.B.E.M., & Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2015). Stability and change in consumer traits: evidence from a twelve-year longitudinal study, 2002-2013. Journal of Marketing Research, 52, 287-308.
Maydeu-Olivares, A. & Liu, Y. (2015). Item diagnostics in multivariate discrete data. Psychological Methods, 20, 276-292.
Brown, A. & Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2013). How IRT can solve problems of ipsative data in forced- choice questionnaires. Psychological Methods, 18, 36-52.
Multimodal perception and attention
We are multidisciplinary group interested in describing the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying the perception and the representation of stimuli from the outside world. We also apply this knowledge to translational research to solve clinical issues (e.g., malnutrition in cancer patients). Our current research lines are the following:
1. The crossmodal representation of auditory and emotional features. Why auditory pitch (i.e., the difference between the sound of a small bird and the trademark sound of a Harley Davidson motorbike), and some emotions such as happiness/sadness, are associated with spatial elevation (i.e., high/low) for most humans? A possibility might be that the brain automatically generates integrated representations of pitch, self-perceived emotional states and verticality. We are investigating the cognitive and neural processes underlying these crossmodal representations.
2. The temporal realignment of unconsciously-associated stimuli. Some of our previous studies suggest that the processing of an unconsciously-detected perceptual regularity between two different stimuli modulate the temporal processing of these stimuli. The next step of this project is to further analyze how high-order processes (e.g., rule learning) influence other (more basic) processes such as the temporal perception of asynchronous signals.
3. A multimodal approach to reduce malnutrition in children with cancer. Chemotherapy has a devastating impact on the diet of pediatric oncology patients, ultimately causing disorders in their eating habits, malnutrition and higher risk of death. We are combining low-cost strategies (in gastronomy, packaging and gaming design) to increase a –healthier– caloric intake in children receiving chemotherapy. The initial steps of this project have been conducted in collaboration with Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, Fundación Alicia, and Prof. Charles Spence (University of Oxford).
Keywords: multisensory integration; crossmodal correspondence; pitch processing; emotions; perceptual learning; chemotherapy; gastrophysics; neurogastronomy.
Fernández-Prieto, I., Caprile, C., Tinoco-González, D., Ristol-Orriols, B., López-Sala, A., Póo-Argüelles, P., Pons, F. & Navarra, J. (2016). Pitch perception deficits in nonverbal learning disability. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 59, 378-386.
Fernández-Prieto, I., Navarra, J., Pons, F. (2015). How big is this sound? Crossmodal association between pitch and size in infants. Infant Behavior and Development, 38, 77-81.
Romero-Rivas, C., Vera-Constán, F., Rodríguez-Cuadrado, S., Puigcerver, L., Fernández-Prieto, I., & Navarra, J. (2018). Seeing music: The perception of melodic ups and downs’ modulates the spatial processing of visual stimuli. Neuropsychologia, 117, 67-74.
Spence, C., Navarra, J., & Yousseff, J. (2019). Using ice-cream as an effective vehicle for energy/nutrient delivery in the elderly. International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, 16, 100140.
Movimiento colectivo coordinado de cardúmenes de peces
El movimiento colectivo coordinado es muy común en la naturaleza (bancos de peces, bandadas de pájaros, colonias de bacterias, enjambres de insectos, rebaños de mamíferos o multitudes humanas). Un rasgo común es su capacidad para desplazarse de forma sincronizada, como un macro-organismo, sin que exista necesariamente la figura de un líder que dirija las maniobras grupales. Respecto los bancos de peces, se considera que pueden adoptar dos patrones de movimiento: school, donde los individuos se desplazan con una velocidad y orientación sincronizada, y shoal, donde existe cohesión entre individuos, pero no hay sincronización entre ellos. A pesar de que se conocen los mecanismos sensoriales implicados en la sincronización del movimiento de los peces, como la visión o la línea lateral, todavía no está claro cómo los individuos integran la información de los inputs sensoriales y modifican su conducta en función de ésta. Durante las últimas décadas se han propuesto diferentes computacionales basados en agentes, que son capaces de simular el patrón de movimiento colectivo coordinado de los bancos de peces a partir de un conjunto de reglas de interacción simples. Actualmente uno de los retos consiste en caracterizar el movimiento colectivo de diferentes especies de peces a nivel empírico y comparar el grado de ajuste entre el patrón observado y el producido por los modelos. Esta línea de investigación aborda el estudio del patrón de movimiento colectivo coordinado de peces cebra (Danio rerio) y neones negros (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi) en condiciones controladas de laboratorio.
Keywords: coordinated collective motion, fish, shoal, school, self- organization
Quera, V.; Gimeno, E.; Beltran, F.S.; & Dolado, R. (2019). Local interaction rules and collective motion in black neon tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi) and zebrafish (Danio rerio). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 133(2), 143-155.
Gimeno, E.; Beltran, F.S.; Dolado, R.; & Quera, V. (2018). Leadership and collective motion in black neon tetra schools: does the task matter? Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology, 51(6), 359-373.
Gimeno, E.; Quera, V.; Beltran, F.S.; Dolado, R. (2016). Differences of shoaling behavior of two species of freshwater fish (Danio rerio and Hyphessobrycon herbertalxelrodi). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 130 (4), 358-368.
Quera, V.; Beltran, F.S.; Gimeno, E. (2016). Modelling the emergence of coordinated collective motion by minimizing dissatisfaction. Mathematical Biosciences, 271, 154-67.
Quera, V.; Beltran, F.S.; Givoni, I.E.; Dolado, R. (2013). Determining shoal membership using affinity propagation. Behavioural Brain Research, 241, 38-49.
Brain disorders and cognitive neuroscience Cognition and Brain Plasticity UNIT – Medical Campus Bellvitge
Our research unit is involved in translational neuroscience research, investigating new ways to prevent and ameliorate brain damage. This Unit is embedded in the medical Bellvitge campus (Univ. Barcelona, www.brainvitge.org) and furnishes strong collaborations with clinical and basic brain researchers. The main purpose is to provide new ideas from recent findings in Neuroscience and Psychology that could help to think creatively on new treatments and help patients to improve their quality of life.
We highlight below the current studies for temporal internships (2019-2020):
- EpilETRE project. This is a large international longitudinal analysis conducted at Sant Joan de Deu Hospital (coordinated by Dr. Alexis Arzimanoglou) in which during several years we have been following a cohort of infant epileptic patients. Infant epilepsy (0,5-1% prevalence) affects brain development and increases the risk of depression and anxiety disorders. We have conducted an extensive neuroimaging MRI protocol (several longitudinal measures) as well emotional and neuropsychological evaluation. The current position available aims to follow the new patients entering in the study and to focus on the MRI analysis of the first sample (30-40 patients recruited).
- Active MUSIC playing for STROKE rehabilitation. The aim of this project is to investigate the possible effectiveness of training to play music in stroke patients with motor deficits and to evaluate the impact in the quality of life. Using a structured music training setting, and in collaboration with a group on Artificial Intelligence (Autonomous University Barcelona, Dr. J.L. Arcos) we have developed a new APP that will try to provide a new tool for home-based music rehabilitation (this project is in collaboration with Parc Salut Mar, Hospital de l’Esperança and Stroke patient association). The current position is aimed to help in the supervision of patients, evaluation and design of an experiment related to the effects of music and reward on the impact of training. This project is funded by La Marato Tv3 (2019-2021).
- The influence of Opioids in the emotional experience of Music. The aim of this current study is to understand how the emotional impact of music is changed with opioids and the possible impact of music on pain modulation (in collaboration with Hospital de Sant Pau, Psychopharmacology Unit, McGill University and University of Lyon).
- Motivation in Language Learning. This project tries to understand to which extent do we keep alive our capacity to learn a new language and which are the neural regions involved in sustaining this motivation. We aim here to investigate also ways to promote re-learning in aphasic patients using the existing knowledge from second language learning and Bilingual processing.
Estructura social en sociedades de primates
La estructura social es uno de los factores fundamentales en el estudio de los sistemas sociales de los primates. La estructura social se define como el patrón de interacciones resultante de todas las relaciones existentes entre los distintos miembros de una comunidad. En las sociedades de primates los miembros de una comunidad interaccionan entre sí a través de comportamientos de competición (conductas agonísticas), que pueden derivar en sistemas jerárquicos, y a través de comportamientos de afiliación (por ejemplo, conductas de alogrooming), que pueden derivar en redes de cooperación. El resultado es un entramado complejo de interacciones que determina la conducta de la comunidad y que puede ser explicado a partir de un conjunto de conductas sociales que determinarán la jerarquía del grupo, las redes de cooperación entre individuos y la distribución espacial de los mismos. La presente línea de investigación propone el estudio de la estructura social de distintas especies de primates (por ejemplo: mangabeys, driles o monos araña) en cautividad. El objetivo será obtener datos que definan la estructura social del grupo en cautividad. Las tareas de investigación consistirán en elaborar y ejecutar un plan de observación para una de las especies de primates del Zoo de Barcelona: identificación de los individuos, desarrollo y prueba del repertorio conductual del grupo y registro sistemático de su conducta social, además de la filmación y análisis de vídeos de la actividad del grupo para definir la distribución espacial a lo largo de la instalación.
También es posible realizar dichas tareas de investigación sobre cualquier otra especie que presente conductas gregarias que deriven en una estructura social definida (por ejemplo, cánidos y otras especies de mamíferos).
Keywords: primate social systems, spatial distribution, grooming networks, conservation.
Dolado, R.; Gimeno, E.; & Beltran, F.S. (2017). Modeling the emergence of seasonal fission-fusion dynamics in red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71, 100
Dolado, R.; Cooke, C.; & Beltran, F.S. (2016). How many for lunch today? Seasonal fission-fusion dynamics as a feeding strategy in wild red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus). Folia Primatologica, 87, 197-212.
Dolado, R. & Beltran, F.S. (2012). Emergent patterns of social organization in captive Cercocebus torquatus: Testing the GrooFiWorld agent-based model. Journal of Biosciences, 37 (4), 777- 784.
Dolado, R. & Beltran, F.S. (2011). Dominance hierarchy and spatial distribution in captive red- capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus torquatus): Testing Hemelrijk’s agent-based model. Interaction Studies, 12 (3), 461-473.
Electrophysiological basis of affiliation, emotion recognition and cognitive control
My research field is Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, with particular interest in individual differences in personality, socio-emotional abilities, emotion processing, the control of facial expressions, and the integration of emotion and cognition in decision making. I employ a multimodal approach integrating behavioral data from reaction times, accuracy, and behavioral observation, with psychophysical measures of EEG, EMG, or SCR, using multivariate analysis (structural equation modelling). I am also interested in video-based analysis of facial expression with machine vision, and the application of artificial intelligence to research on individual differences. I am starting a new project using mobile EEG-devices to measure brain activity during social interactions.
Current research questions and projects:
• Affiliation, emotion recognition, and cognitive control in face-to-face interactions versus video calls.
• Electrophysiological correlates of self-regulation
• Applications of artificial intelligence to measure psychological processes
• Representation of emotion in Phoenician masks
Keywords: Emotion, Personality, Multivariate, Artificial Intelligence, Psychophysiology
Beringer, M., Wacker, J., & Recio, G. (2022). Deliberate control of facial expressions in a go/no-go task: An ERP study. Acta Psychologica, 230, 103773.
Katembu, S., Xu, Q., Rostami, H.N., Recio, G., & Sommer, W. (2022). Effects of Social Context on Deliberate Facial Expressions: Evidence from a Stroop-like Task. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 1-21.
Recio, G., & Sommer, W. (2018) Copycat of dynamic facial expressions: Superior volitional motor control for expressions of disgust. Neuropsychologia, 119, 512-523.
Recio, G., Wilhelm, O., Sommer, W., & Hildebrandt, A. (2017). Are event-related potentials to dynamic facial expressions of emotion related to individual differences in the accuracy of processing facial expressions and identity? Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, 17(2), 364-380.
Brain dynamics of higher pleasures
A trait that defines us as a specie is our ability to enjoy abstract and complex activities, the so-called higher pleasures (such as music, art, or gastronomy). Current models suggest that our unique cognitive capacities have provided alternative ways to trigger reward brain circuits, particularly in response to information and learning, which has driven our outstanding curiosity and expanded the range of activities we find pleasurable.
By combining different neuroimaging techniques and behavioral and psychophysiological measures, I aim to understand the psychological and neural mechanisms responsible for translating learning and information into pleasure, using music and gastronomy as models.
I believe studying the neural mechanisms underlying higher pleasures may serve as a window into human affect and cognition, bringing us further to understanding the brain’s predictive nature and how the intrinsic value of curiosity and knowledge emerges in the human brain.
Keywords: Pleasure, reward, music, food, fMRI, EEG, neuroimaging
Mas-Herrero, E., Maini, L., Sescousse, G., & Zatorre, R. J. (2021). Common and distinct neural correlates of music and food-induced pleasure: a coordinate-based meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 123, 61-71.
Mas-Herrero, E., Dagher, A., Farrés-Franch, M., & Zatorre, R. J. (2021). Unraveling the temporal dynamics of reward signals in music-induced pleasure with TMS. Journal of Neuroscience, 41(17), 3889-3899.
Ferreri, L., Mas-Herrero, E., Zatorre, R. J., Ripollés, P., Gomez-Andres, A., Alicart, H., … & Rodriguez-Fornells, A. (2019). Dopamine modulates the reward experiences elicited by music. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(9), 3793-3798.
Mas-Herrero, E., Dagher, A., & Zatorre, R. J. (2018). Modulating musical reward sensitivity up and down with transcranial magnetic stimulation. Nature human behaviour, 2(1), 27-32.
Neural Basis of Aggressive Behavior
We help uncover the neurobiological underpinnings of aggression using a combination of behavioral data, self-reports, hormonal concentrations (e.g., testosterone and cortisol) and measures of brain structure (MRI) and function (fMRI). In particular, in the last years we have investigated the neural encoding of competitive status and its link to aggression, approach-avoidance biases in neurological patients, and reactivity to threat signals in women with borderline personality disorder among other topics.
Some potential research topics are:
- are resting state networks reconfigured after an aggressive confrontation?
- how are hostile cognitive biases acquired?
- does interpersonal dissimilarity predict hostility between peers?
Keywords: aggression, anger, approach, avoidance
Bertsch, K., Buades-Rotger, M., Krauch, M., Ueltzhöffer, K., Kleindienst, N., Herpertz, S. C., & Krämer, U. M. (2022). Abnormal processing of interpersonal cues during an aggressive encounter in women with borderline personality disorder: Neural and behavioral findings. Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science, 131(5), 493–506. https://doi.org/10.1037/abn0000756
Buades-Rotger, M., Göttlich, M., Weiblen, R., Petereit, P., Scheidt, T., Keevil, B. G., & Krämer, U. M. (2021). Low Competitive Status Elicits Aggression in Healthy Young Men: Behavioral and Neural Evidence. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, nsab061. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsab061
Buades-Rotger, M., Solbakk, A.-K., Liebrand, M., Endestad, T., Funderud, I., Siegwardt, P., Enter, D., Roelofs, K., & Krämer, U. M. (2021). Patients with Ventromedial Prefrontal Lesions Show an Implicit Approach Bias to Angry Faces. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 33(6), 1069–1081. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01706
Brazil, I. A., & Buades-Rotger, M. (2020). Staring at the (sur)face of the antisocial brain. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7(3), 218–219. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30035-3
Investigating the Relationship Between Brain Connectivity and Daily Anxiety Levels: A Functional Neuroimaging Study in Ecological Settings
The research in functional neuroimaging conducted in recent years, through techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), has allowed us to advance our understanding of brain functioning from an innovative perspective, such as the study of functional connectivity between distant structures and the brain’s organization in networks of activity. However, we do not know to what extent individual variability in the configuration of these brain networks is related to behavioral differences in daily life. While the relationship between brain changes and behavior has been studied in many previous works, these studies have evaluated behavior in laboratory conditions rather than ecological environments. Today, however, we have new tools, such as ecological momentary assessment through mobile phone applications, that allow us to make longitudinal assessments of people’s behavior in real-life situations. Therefore, we can associate interindividual variability in brain functioning with ecological behavioral manifestations. The student interested in this topic will be able to work on the analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data from a sample of over 200 healthy subjects and associate different parameters related to functional connectivity between regions with the levels of daily anxiety experienced by these individuals over a six-month follow-up period. The objective is to identify the parameters of brain connectivity that are associated with variability in anxiety levels in daily life while controlling for possible confounding effects such as trait anxiety levels and the occurrence of stressful situations during the follow-up period.
Keywords: Functional Neuroimaging, Functional Connectivity, Brain Networks, Ecological Momentary Assessment, Anxiety.
Fortea L, Tortella-Feliu M, Juaneda-Seguí A, De la Peña-Arteaga V, Chavarría-Elizondo P, Prat-Torres L, Soriano-Mas C, Lane SP, Radua J, Fullana MA.(2023). Development and Validation of a Smartphone-Based App for the Longitudinal Assessment of Anxiety in Daily Life. Assessment; 30(4):959-968.
Gratton C, Nelson SM, Gordon EM. (2022). Brain-behavior correlations: Two paths toward reliability. Neuron; 110(9):1446-1449.
McGowan AL, Sayed F, Boyd ZM, Jovanova M, Kang Y, Speer ME, Cosme D, Mucha PJ, Ochsner KN, Bassett DS, Falk EB, Lydon-Staley DM. (2023). Dense Sampling Approaches for Psychiatry Research: Combining Scanners and Smartphones. Biol Psychiatry; 93(8):681-689.
Picó-Pérez M, Fullana MA, Albajes-Eizagirre A, Vega D, Marco-Pallarés J, Vilar A, Chamorro J, Felmingham KL, Harrison BJ, Radua J, Soriano-Mas C. (2022). Neural predictors of cognitive-behavior therapy outcome in anxiety-related disorders: a meta-analysis of task-based fMRI studies. Psychol Med.; 11:1-9.