Human Neuroscience Lab


Senior Investigators

María Ruz

Maria is the PI of the lab. She completed her PhD in Granada and the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology in New York, and enjoyed a postdoc at New College in Oxford University. Maria currently holds a research and teaching position at the Department of Experimental Psychology in Granada. She has a broad interest in understanding the neural mechanisms that shape cognition in the human brain. Email

Eduardo Madrid

Eduardo holds a teaching position at the Department of Experimental Psychology in Granada. Email

Graduate students

David López-García

I am Telecommunication Engineer and PhD student at the University of Granada. I have worked in the study of automatic detection and classification of sleep disorders by analyzing patients’ EEG. Now, my PhD focuses on the analysis of brain functional Magnetic Resonance images and High Density Electroencephalography by the implementation and optimization of several signal processing techniques. I also try to play tennis in my spare time. Email

Alberto Sobrado

I am a PhD student, with a background of psychology and cognitive neuroscience. My thesis seeks to study how cognitive control allows humans to prepare and achieve novel behaviors at the first attempt and the factors involved in this process, using behavioral and fMRI measures. Love coffe. Email

Chema G. Peñalver

I have just started my PhD at the University of Granada, where I also completed my Master’s degree on Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. On my thesis I’m focusing on understanding the mechanisms of preparation, and how they differ through different cognitive contexts. For that, I’m interested in the combined use of different research tools, such as fMRI and EEG. I’m a scout, so I spend my free time either hiking or volunteering as a camp monitor. Besides, I love origami and going to the movies whenever I can. Email

Undergraduate students

Mercedes Fernández-Argüelles

Former students

Kenéz Bogdány, MSc

Alejandro Sandoval, MSc

Paloma Díaz-Gutiérrez, Ph.D.

Ana F. Palenciano, Ph.D.

Juan E. Arco, Ph.D.

Carlos González-García, Ph.D.

Sonia Alguacil, Ph.D.

María Tortosa, Ph.D.

Clara Aranda, Ph.D

Lidia Izquierdo

Cristina Sánchez

Javier Guerrero, MSc

Marta Puertollano, MSc

Victor Moreno

Noelia Herrera, MSc

Beatriz Moreno, MSc

Antonio Barba, MSc

Celia Gaertig, MSc

Anna Moser, MSc

Aina Casaponsa, MSc

Tatiana Strizhko, MSc


Sonia Alguacil

Alberto Acosta

Ángel Correa

Antonio Espín

Sam Gilbert

Carlos González-García

Felisa González Reyes

Juanma Górriz

Luiz Pessoa

Javier Ramírez

Daniel Sanabria

Chris Summerfield

Alexandra Woolgar


Characterization of the brain mechanims of preparation in contexts of Selective Attention

Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science (PID2019-111187GB-I00)

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Preparing in advance for upcoming challenges provides a key behavioral advantage for the efficiency of human behavior across a wide range of contexts. Theoretical models in Cognitive Neuroscience have associated this ability with proactive, top-down endogenous modulation of brain activity. Research indicates that preparation generates the representation of task goals in high-level associative brain areas, which bias activations in lower-level perceptual regions in anticipation of target presentation. Collectively these preactivations carry specific information about the advanced scenarios, including the category of the target stimuli. Despite its core importance in cognitive brain functioning, to date we lack an understanding of how these preparatory mechanisms are flexibly tuned to help meet the demands posed by different contexts, and the extent to which they follow compositionality principles where simpler mechanisms are used to build more complex ones. The general goal of the current project is to fill this gap by employing cue-target experimental paradigms during functional Magnetic Resonance (fMRI) and Electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings in humans. Each fMRI and EEG experiment will be analyzed with multivariate pattern methods, in combination with classic univariate approaches. This will allow characterizing the information contained in preparatory activations linked to contexts of increasing complexity, its temporal dynamics and its relevance for the efficiency of behavioral performance. Overall, the results of the experimental series will have a significant impact on the fields of Cognitive Control and Selective Attention, advancing our knowledge about the characteristics of neural endogenous preparatory activity in different contexts. Additionally, our findings will be highly informative regarding the extent to which these anticipatory mechanisms are compositionally built across domains of different complexity.

Neural mechanisms of cognitive control during the preparation and implementation of novel tasks

Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science (PSI2016-78236-P)

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Cognitive control is a core skill of humansas it allows us to adapt to changing situational demands in a fast, efficient and highly flexible manner. This project aims at studying the neural mechanisms involved in the preparation to perform novel tasks and their implementation, while considering the links between the control mechanisms involved in these phenomena and their motivational counterpart, and in relation to the effort that classic and modern conceptions associate to control.

Research facilities

Our lab is located at the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center. Here we have access to several behavioral testing rooms, a 3T Siemens Magnetic Resonance Imaging facility with compatible EEG and EyeLink Eyetracker, high-density EEG recording devices, and a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation device with a robotic assistant and neuronavigator.


Spears, D., Okan, Y., Hinojosa-Aguayo, I., Perales, JC., Ruz, M. & González, F. (In press) Can induced reflection affect moral decision-making? Phiilosophical Psychology.

Díaz-Gutiérrez, P., Arco, J.E., Alguacil, S., González-García, C., Ruz, M. (2020). Neural representations of social valence bias economic interpersonal choices. Neuropsychologia, 147, 107584. pdf

Lopez-Garcia, D., Sobrado, A., Peñalver, JMG.,  Gorriz, JM., Ruz, M. (2020)  Multivariate pattern analysis techniques for electroencephalography data to study Flanker interference effects, International Journal of Neural Systems. pdf

González-García, C., García-Carrión, B., López-Benítez, R., Sobrado, A., Acosta, A., & Ruz, M. (2020) Induced affective states do not modulate effort avoidance. Psychological Research, 1-13. pdf

Correa, Á., Alguacil, S., Ciria, L.F., Jiménez, A. & Ruz, M. (2020). Circadian rhythms and decision-making: a review and new evidence from electroencephalography. Chronobiology International, doi: 10.1080/07420528.2020.1715421 pdf

Díaz-Gutiérrez, P., Gilbert, S. J., Arco, J. E., Sobrado, A., & Ruz, M. (2020). Neural representation of current and intended task sets during sequential judgements on human faces. NeuroImage, 204, 116219. pdf

Arco, J. E.; Díaz-Gutiérrez, P., Ramírez, J., & Ruz, M. (2020). Atlas-based classification algorithms for identification of informative brain regions in fMRI data. Neuroinformatics, 1-18. pdf

Juechems, K., Balaguer, J., Castañón, S. H., Ruz, M., O’Reilly, J. X., & Summerfield, C. (2019). A network for computing value equilibrium in the human medial prefrontal cortex. Neuron, 101(5), 977-987. pdf

Palenciano, A. F., González-García, C., Arco, J. E., Pessoa, L. & Ruz, M. (2019) Representational organization of novel task sets during proactive encoding. Journal of Neuroscience, 719–725 pdf

Palenciano, A. F., González-García, C., Arco, J. E., & Ruz, M. (2018). Transient and sustained control mechanisms supporting novel instructed behavior. Cerebral Cortex, 1-13. pdf

Arco, J.E., González-García, C., Díaz-Gutiérrez, P., Ramírez, J., & Ruz, M. (2018). Influence of activation pattern estimates and statistical significance tests in fMRI decoding analysis. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 308, 248–260. pdf

Díaz-Gutiérrez, P.; Alguacil, S. & Ruz, M. (2017). Bias and control in social decision-making. In A. Ibáñez, L. Sedeño & A. García (eds), Neuroscience and Social Science: The missing link (pp 47- 68). Cham: Springer.

Juechems K, Balaguer J, Ruz M, Summerfield C. (2017) Ventromedial prefrontal cortex encodes a latent estimate of cumulative reward. Neuron 93(3):705-714.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.12.038. pdf

Palenciano, AF, Díaz-Gutiérrez, P, González-Garcia, C, Ruz, M (2017) Neural mechanisms of cognitive control/Mecanismos neurales de control cognitive. Estudios de Psicología 38 (2), 311-337. pdf

González-García C, Arco JE, Palenciano AF, Ramírez J, Ruz M. (2017) Encoding, preparation and implementation of novel complex verbal instructions. Neuroimage 1;148:264-273. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.01.037. pdf

Alguacil S, Madrid E, Espín AM, Ruz M. (2017) Facial identity and emotional expression as predictors during economic decisions. Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience 17(2):315-329. doi: 10.3758/s13415-016-0481-9. pdf

Correa A, Ruiz-Herrera N, Ruz M, Tonetti L, Martoni M, Fabbri M, Natale V. (2017) Economic decision-making in morning/evening-type people as a function of time of day. Chronobiology International 34(2):139-147. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2016.1246455. pdf

Lapotka M, Ruz M, Salamanca Ballesteros A, Ocón Hernández O. (2016) Cold pressor gel test: A safe alternative to the cold pressor test in fMRI. Magnetic Resonance Medicine doi: 10.1002/mrm.26529. pdf

González-García C, Mas-Herrero E, de Diego-Balaguer R, Ruz M. (2016) Task-specific preparatory neural activations in low-interference contexts. Brain Structure & Function (8):3997-4006. pdf

González-García C, Tudela P, Ruz M. (2015) Unconscious biases in task choices depend on conscious expectations. Consciousness & Cognition 37:44-56. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.08.001. Epub 2015 Aug 13. pdf

Alguacil, S., Tudela, P., & Ruz, M. (2015). Ignoring facial emotion expressions does not eliminate their influence on cooperation decisions. Psicológica, 36(2). pdf

Wei Z, Ruz M, Zhao Z, Zheng Y. (2015) Epistemic motivation affects the processing of negative emotional stimuli in interpersonal decisions. Frontiers in Psychology 23;6:1057. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01057. pdf

Sanabria D, Madrid E, Aranda C, Ruz M. (2015) Attentional orienting to own and others' hands. Experimental Brain Research 233(8):2347-55. doi: 10.1007/s00221-015-4303-z. pdf

Ruz M, Aranda C, Sarmiento BR, Sanabria D. (2015) Attention to individual identities modulates face processing. Experimental Brain Research 2015 May;233(5):1491-502. doi: 10.1007/s00221-015-4223-y. pdf

Ibanez A, Kotz SA, Barrett L, Moll J, Ruz M. (2014) Situated effective and social neuroscience. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 28;8:547. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00547. pdf

Moser, A., Gaertig, C. & Ruz, M. (2014) Social information and personal interests modulate neural activity during economic decision-making. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:31. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00031. pdf

González-García, C., Tudela, P., & Ruz, M. (2014). Functional magnetic resonance imaging: a critical analysis of its technical, statistical and theoretical implications in human neuroscience. Revista de neurologia, 58(7), 318-325. pdf

Alguacil, S., Tudela, P. & Ruz, M. (2013) Cognitive and affective control in a flanker word task: common and dissociable brain mechanisms. Neuropsychologia, 51, 1663-1672. pdf

Tortosa, M.I., Lupiáñez, J. & Ruz, M. (2013) Race, emotion, and trust: An ERP study. Brain Research, 1494, 44-55. pdf

Tortosa, M.I., Strizhko, Capizzi, M. & Ruz, M. (2013) Interpersonal effects of emotion in a multi-round Trust Game. Psicologica, 34, 179-198. pdf

Ruz, M., Madrid, E., Tudela, P. (2013) Interactions between perceived emotions and executive attention in an interpersonal game. Social, Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 8, 838-44. pdf

Gärtig, C., Moser, A.R., Alguacil, S. & Ruz, M. (2012) Social information and economic decision-making in the ultimatum game. Frontiers in Decision Neuroscience, 6:103. pdf

Baines, S., Ruz, M., Rao, A., Denison, R. & Nobre AC. (2011) Modulation of neural activity by motivational and spatial biases. Neuropsychologia, 49, 2489-97. pdf

Ruz, M. & Moser, A. & Webster, K. (2011) Social expectations bias decision-making in uncertain interpersonal situations. PLoS ONE 6(2): e15762. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015762. pdf

Ruz, M. & Tudela, P. (2011) Emotional conflict in interpersonal interactions. NeuroImage, 54, 1685-91. pdf

Aranda C, Ruz M, Tudela P, Sanabria D. (2010) Focusing on the bodily self: The influence of endogenous attention on visual body processing. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 72, 1756-64. pdf

Aranda C, Madrid E, Tudela P, Ruz M. (2010) Category expectations: A differential modulation of the N170 potential for faces and words. Neuropsychologia, 48, 4038-45. pdf

Ruz, M. & Fuentes, L. (2009) Beyond perception: Testing for implicit conceptual traces in high-load tasks. Consciousness & Cognition, 18, 820-2. pdf

Ruz, M. & Nobre, A.C. (2008) Attention modulates initial stages of visual word processing. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 1727-36. pdf

Ruz, M. & Nobre, A.C. (2008) Dissociable top-down anticipatory neural states for different linguistic dimensions. Neuropsychologia, 46, 1151-60. pdf

Periáñez, J.A., Ríos, M., Barceló, F., Madrid, E. & Ruz, M. (2008) Atención y neuroimagen. En Maestú, Ríos y Cabestrero (Eds.) Neuroimagen: Técnicas y Procesos Cognitivos (pp. 281-309). Madrid: Elsevier Masson.

Ruz, M., Madrid, E., Lupiáñez, J. & Tudela, P. (2007) Unconscious perception: Illusion or reality? Estudios de Psicología, 28, 167-176

Lupiañez, J., Ruz, M., Funes, M.J. & Milliken, B. (2007) The manifestation of attentional capture: Facilitation or IOR depending on task demands. Psychological Research, 71, 77-91. pdf

Ruz, M., Acero, J.J.,Tudela, P. (2006) What does the brain tell us about the mind? Psicologica, 29, 149-157. pdf

Ruz, M. (2006) Let the brain explain the mind: The case of Attention. Philosophical Psychology, 19, 495-505. pdf

Ruz, M., Wolmetz, M., Tudela, P. & McCandliss, B. (2005) Two brain pathways for attended and ignored words. NeuroImage, 27, 852-61. pdf

Ruz, M., Worden, M., Tudela, P. & McCandliss, B. (2005) Inattentional amnesia to words in a high attentional load task. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17, 768-76. pdf

Ruz, M., Madrid, E., Lupiáñez, J. & Tudela, P. (2003) High density ERP indices of conscious and unconscious semantic processing. Cognitive Brain Research,17, 719-31. pdf

Ruz, M., Tudela, P. & Madrid, E. (2003) Neurociencia Cognitiva de la consciencia: Una revisión sobre los mecanismos cerebrales de la actividad consciente. Estudios de Psicología, 24,147-162.

Ruz, M., & Lupiáñez, J. (2002) A review of attentional capture: On its automaticity and sensitivity to endogenous control. Psicologica, 23, 283-309. pdf

Lupiáñez, J., Rueda, R., Ruz, M., & Tudela, P. (2000) Processing of attended and ignored words in the parafovea: Inhibitory aspects in semantic processing. Psicologica, 21, 233-256.

Locate us

Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center

University of Granada, Spain