CELMA MIRALLES, ALEXANDRE

Center for Brain and Cognition
Laguaje and Comparative Cognition

+34 93 542 1349
[email protected]
Roc Boronat, 138 08018 Barcelona


Since 2015, I am a PhD candidate in Biomedicine in the Center for Brain and Cognition at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Thanks to the FPI fellowship by the Ministerio de Economía y Competividad (Spain Government), I am currently researching biomusicology under the supervision of Dr. J. M. Toro in the Language & Comparative Cognition group.

My PhD project focuses on the neural and evolutionary correlates of rhythm processing through beat and meter, merging the fields of psychology and musicology with the methodologies of neuroscience and comparative cognition. I am interested in how the brain processes the time structure of music and dance, and how this processing relates to biological traits shared with other animals. To clarify how the brain processes beat and meter across modalities and to attest the role of attention and formal music training on rhythmic perception, we apply frequency analyses to the electroencephalographic recordings of musicians and non-musicians. In contrast, to hypothesize about the evolutionary bases of the timing mechanisms, rats are trained and tested in behavioral paradigms. The point is to disentangle which rhythmic components are human-specific (and maybe related to language) and which are shared with other animals (mammals, birds…). Future studies will also look at the evolution of the tonal-harmonic structures of music.

Regarding my academic career, I firstly pursued a Bachelor’s degree with honors in Catalan Philology (Universitat Rovira I Virgili, 2012) and a Music Professional degree in violin (Conservatori de Vila-seca, 2010). Due to the persistent interest in better understanding the mind and the origins of “syntactic structures”, I shifted my academic career towards the multidisciplinary field of Cognitive Science. I followed a M.A. in Cognitive Science and Language (Universitat de Barcelona, 2014) and a M.Sc. in Brain and Cognition (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 2015). Finally, to run studies within a comparative cognition framework, I attended a course in Animal Manipulation for Experimentation (Fundació URV, 2016). I have also been involved in the seminars of the “Grammar & Cognition Lab” (UB-UPF) directed by W. Hinzen and J. Rosselló.

Besides the Academy, I love playing the violin, mainly in the orchestra, and self-learning melodies in the accordion and the ukulele. Running, hiking, yoga, painting and dancing, are other of my hobbies, and I will never refuse a vermouth (from Reus) to chat on a terrace or in front of the sea. Since I share the spirit and research goals of Darwin's work, let me finish quoting him: "False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness".