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.​



Senior PI

Maria did her PhD in Granada and the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology in New York, and enjoyed a postdoc in New College at Oxford. She is currently Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center of the University of Granada. She has a broad interest in understanding the neural mechanisms that shape cognition in the human brain.

Carlos González-García


I am a Ramón y Cajal fellow in Granada, where I did my PhD with María Ruz and Pío Tudela. I spent some time as a Fulbright scholar in Biyu He’s lab at NIH and NYU, and as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoc fellow in Marcel Brass’ lab at Ghent University. I am a psychologist often navigating the intersection of cognitive and computational neuroscience.


Postdoctoral researcher

I did my PhD at the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Research Center with Maria Ruz, exploring how the brain flexibly encodes novel, instructed demands. I continued deepening on that field while working as a postdoc at Ghent University, in Marcel Brass’ and Baptist Liefooghe’s labs. Now I am a postdoc researcher at the University of Granada. In general terms, I’m interested in studying neural task representations using fMRI/EEG and multivariate analyses.

David Richter

Postdoctoral researcher

I am a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoc at the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Research Center, where I explore how predictions influence sensory processing and how we learn from statistical regularities. Previously, I was a postdoc in VU Amsterdam, focusing on the neural underpinnings of distractor suppression. Prior to this, I was a postdoc and completed my PhD in the Predictive Brain Lab at Donders Institute, specializing in predictive processing. More information about my research can also be found on my website.


Postdoctoral researcher

I am a PhD student 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 spend my free time either hiking or taking care of my many pets. Besides, I love origami and going to the movies whenever I can.


MSc Neuroscience — PhD Student

I am a PhD student at the University of Granada, where I also completed my Master’s degree on Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. I am studying the mechanisms of preparation in relation with motivation. In these studies, we use EEG and fMRI. In my free time I love hiking, travelling and watercolor painting.

Paula Pena

MSc Neuroscience — Phd Student

I am a PhD student at the University of Granada, where I also completed an MSc on Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. I am studying preparatory mechanisms relevant when performing novel tasks and how these neural task codes are structured. In my free time I love going to the movies and crocheting.

Francisco Gutiérrez

MSc Neuroscience — Phd Student

I am a PhD student at the University of Granada, where I also completed a master’s degree in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. My research focuses on the neuro-cognitive mechanisms that underlie the modulation that social expectations have on the perception of other people. To this end, we combine behavioral measures such as mouse movements with neural recordings such as EEG and fRMI. I use my free time for climbing, music and friends, not forgetting my lovely kitty.

Michelle Hefner

Biomedical engineer - PhD student

I am a PhD student at the University of Granada, co-supervised by María Ruz & Christopher Summerfield. I have a dual Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and chemical & biological engineering from Colorado State University, where I was an undergraduate researcher in a cognitive neuroscience lab working on multimodal fusion of neuroimaging data and machine learning. Loosely, I’m interested in neuroimaging and AI and using computational methods to model and investigate cognitive processes in the human brain. Outside of research I love cooking, the outdoors, and music!

Johannah Voeller

MSc Psychology - PhD student

I am a PhD student at the University of Granada, co-supervised by Carlos González García & Juan Linde Domingo. During my PhD, I study how we learn new information in a single instance, focusing on the contribution of different memory systems to retaining this information over time. Previously, I completed my MSc in Psychology at the University of Leipzig, Germany, during which I was a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Doeller. Outside of everything brain-y I love arts & crafts, the outdoors, and fries!

Jose manuel garcía

Undergraduate student


  • Ricardo de Haro, MSc
  • David López-García, Ph.D.
  • Tara Beilner, MSc
  • Alberto Sobrado, MSc
  • Christopher Williamson
  • Mercedes Fernández-Argüelles
  • Kenéz Bogdány, MSc
  • Alejandro Sandoval, MSc
  • Paloma Díaz-Gutiérrez, Ph.D.
  • Juan E. Arco, 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

Visiting students

  • Fanni Vikor
  • Merel de Merlier
  • Laura De Laere
  • Yulya Bedritskaya
  • Giada Viviani
  • Marc Sabio
  • Luc Vermeylen
  • Despina Gatz
  • Flavia Arnese
  • Iulia Boncu
  • Federico Citterio


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

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

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 coding of information for proactive cognitive control

Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science — PID2022-138940NB-I00

Ready, Steady, Go! It is common lay knowledge that preparing in advance improves the efficiency of behavior. Why and how this happens, however, is still far from being understood. One of the research fields that can provide highly valuable insights to advance this knowledge is the study of information coding in the human brain. The present project will test the overarching hypothesis that anticipatory activations reflect a form of internal control of brain circuit dynamics that brings cortical states closer to the representational subspace that matters for the upcoming task. We will employ functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) neuroimaging combined with several multivariate analyses to investigate the spatio-temporal dynamics of the neural codes underlying advance preparation in the human brain.



Peñalver, J. M., López-García, D., González-García, C., Aguado-López, B., Górriz, J. M., & Ruz, M. (2023). Top-down specific preparatory activations for selective attention and perceptual expectations. NeuroImage, 271, 119960. — PDF
Palenciano, A.F., Senoussi, M., Formica, S., & González-García, C. (2023). Canonical template tracking: measuring the activation state of specific neural representations. Frontiers in Neuroimaging — PDF
Formica, S., González-García, C., Senoussi, M., Marinazzo, D., & Brass, M. (2022). Theta-phase connectivity between medial prefrontal and posterior areas underlies novel instructions implementation. eNeuroPDF
Sobrado, A.*, Palenciano, A. F.*, Gonzalez Garcia, C., & Ruz, M. (2022). The effect of task demands on the neural patterns generated by novel instruction encoding. Cortex — PDF
Wisniewski, D., Cracco, E., González-García, C., Brass, M. (2022). Relating Free Will Beliefs and Attitudes. Royal Society Open Science— PDF
Liu, X., Wisniewski, D., Vermeylen, L., Palenciano, A. F., Liu, W., & Brysbaert, M. (2021). The representations of Chinese characters: evidence from sub-lexical components. Journal of Neuroscience. — PDF
Wisniewski, D., González-García, C., Formica, S., Woolgar, A., & Brass, M. (2021). Adaptive coding of stimulus information in human fronto-parietal cortex during visual classification. bioRxiv. — PDF

López-García, D., Peñalver, J. M., Górriz, J. M., & Ruz, M. (2021). MVPAlab: A Machine Learning decoding toolbox for multidimensional electroencephalography data. Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine (in press). — PDF

Mas-Herrero, E., Adrover-Roig, D., Ruz, M. & de-Diego Balaguer, R. (2021) Do Bilinguals Outperform Monolinguals in Switching Tasks? Contrary Evidence for Nonlinguistic and Linguistic Switching Tasks. Neurobiology of Language. https://doi.org/10.1162/nol_a_00059 — PDF

Arco, J. E., Ramírez, J., Górriz, J. M., Ruz, M., & Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. (2021). Data fusion based on Searchlight analysis for the prediction of Alzheimer’s disease. Expert Systems with Applications, 185, 115549.  —  PDF

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

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. https://doi.org/10.1142/S0129065720500240.  —  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.

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

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

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.  —  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.

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

Centro de Investigación Mente, Cerebro y Comportamiento (CIMCYC). C/Campus de la Cartuja S/N, 18011, Granada.