Departament de Tecnologies de la Informació i les Comunicacions
Language and Comparative Cognition
ERC Postdoc fellow

I am a Psychology graduate (Universidad del Azuay, 2009 – Ecuador) with a Masters’ degree in Neuroscience (Universitat de Barcelona, 2011 – Spain) and a PhD in Biomedicine (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 2016 – Spain). Since 2017, I am a post-doctoral fellow at the Language and Comparative Cognition group from the Center for Brain and Cognition – UPF. My post-doctoral training is framed in the Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC 315219 – BioCon, 2013–2018) granted to Juan M. Toro and entitled Biological Origins of Linguistic Constraints.

What are the cognitive processes that make human cognition species-specific? That is the main question that motivates my research. I am interested on the study of the biological bases of higher human capacities such as music and language. Broadly, my work explores the extent to which the basic mechanisms that enable the faculties of language and music might be present in other species, as well as the neural substrates underlying these abilities. I use different methodologies to carry out the experimental work, mainly comparative studies (with Long-Evans rats as animal model), electrophysiological techniques (EEG recordings with non-musician and musician participants) and behavioral tasks.

As a first approach to this issue, during my PhD I explored the mechanisms involved in the perception of consonance-dissonance, a salient musical feature related to aesthetics and a highly debated phenomena. Importantly, the comparative and neurophysiological experiments carried out in my PhD project allowed tackling the issue of how relevant experience (in form of complex vocalizations production, pre-exposure to harmonic stimuli, and musical expertise) influences on the perception of this musical feature. Currently, my work continues exploring the biological bases of consonance perception as well as new lines of research on music and language processing. In particular, ongoing comparative studies are focused on the perception of tonal pitch and its influence on musical syntactic processing. Regarding the language domain, current studies address the issue of whether prosodic cues facilitate structure extraction from the acoustic signal in non-human animals.