Memory and cognition

P1070353 Research line coordinated by Fernando Maestú.

Memory is one of our most outstanding cognitive capacities. It allows us to keep track of the changing environment, integrating past and present. Besides, memory difficulties are by far one of the most usual cognitive complaints related to neurological impairments. How do we manage to keep relevant information active until we complete some task? How do we recover past facts? How do we prevent forgetting? And why do we sometimes fail to do so? What role does memory play in sustaining language comprehension? These are some of the questions we ask ourselves in the lab, and we study the dynamics of brain oscillations and the neural communication mechanisms underlying these phenomena. In close relation with these questions, we also study cognitive control and its interaction with memory.


Early prefrontal activation during the control of emotional distraction in working memory

Cognitive control is a main concept in modern cognitive neuroscience that refers to mechanisms underlying our capacity to flexibly adapt our behaviour to the changing circumstances. This construct entails a broad range of cognitive processes including, among others, attention allocation and inhibitory mechanisms that are engaged in the effective control of a variety of cognitive operations, such as memory or language. Top-down interactions across prefrontal and posterior brain areas as well as fronto-striato-thalamic loops are supposed to be key cerebral mechanisms subserving cognitive control. In particular, our research focus is the cognitive control of memory, especially when coping with irrelevant distracters. We are also interested in studying how cognitive control and memory capacity enable us to integrate information during language comprehension, developing a unified semantic meaning. For that, we use behavioural experiments, Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional connectivity measures to study brain network interactions.

Selected publications


  • Cela-Conde CJ, García-Prieto J, Ramasco JJ, Mirasso CR, Bajo R, Munar E, Flexas A, del-Pozo F, Maestú F. Dynamics of brain networks in the aesthetic appreciation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.. 2013 Jun; 110 Suppl 2:10454-61. PubMed ID: 23754437. PDF file PDF file.
  • García-Pacios J, Gutiérrez R, Solesio E, Moratti S, Ruiz-Vargas JM, López-Frutos JM, Lorenzo-López L, Del-Pozo F, Maestú F. Early prefrontal activation as a mechanism to prevent forgetting in the context of interference. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013 Jun; 21(6):580-8. PubMed ID: 23388623. PDF file PDF file.


  • del Río D, Cuesta P, Bajo R, García-Pacios J, López-Higes R, del-Pozo F, Maestú F. Efficiency at rest: magnetoencephalographic resting-state connectivity and individual differences in verbal working memory. Int J Psychophysiol. 2012 Nov; 86(2):160-7. PubMed ID: 22940641. PDF file PDF file.
  • Munar E, Nadal M, Rosselló J, Flexas A, Moratti S, Maestú F, Marty G, Cela-Conde CJ. Lateral orbitofrontal cortex involvement in initial negative aesthetic impression formation. PLoS ONE. 2012; 7(6):e38152. PubMed ID: 22675517.
  • del Río D, López-Higes R, Martín-Aragoneses MT. Canonical word order and interference-based integration costs during sentence comprehension: the case of Spanish subject- and object-relative clauses. Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2012; 65(11):2108-28. PubMed ID: 22524672.


  • del Río D, Maestú F, López-Higes R, Moratti S, Gutiérrez R, Maestú C, del-Pozo F. Conflict and cognitive control during sentence comprehension: recruitment of a frontal network during the processing of Spanish object-first sentences. Neuropsychologia. 2011 Feb; 49(3):382-91. PubMed ID: 21147136.