Neuroscience and Language Disorder

Within this line of research, we are working on the following topics:

  • The study and modulation of the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive processes through non-invasive brain stimulation techniques.
  • The study of language acquisition, learning and processing in populations with typical and pathological development.
  • The acquisition of language, phonology, gestures and pragmatics.

Specific thesis projects offered inside of this line of research include the following: 

Thesis Proposals


Research Group

Cognitive neuroscience

This line of research is focused on studying the involvement and functional dissociation of the dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices in different cognitive processes.

In particular, cognitive control involves the activation of two main neural systems with different functions: a dorsal system, which includes the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and a ventral system, which includes the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.

This line of research aims to broaden our understanding of the dissociation and interaction between these two systems by applying transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). We are particularly interested in characterizing the neural bases of three processes related to cognitive control:

  • Emotional interference on working memory
  • Risk-based decision-making
  • Theory of mind
  • Numerical cognition
Dr Diego Redolar  Cognitive NeuroLab

Clinical neuropsychology and applied neuroscience: brain injury

Research into clinical neuropsychology and applied neuroscience is focused on studying the neural mechanisms behind different pathologies that present abnormal or altered brain functioning. We also focus on the use of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques as a therapeutic approach to improve, stimulate and rehabilitate cognitive functions in neurodegenerative diseases (mainly Alzheimer's disease) and in acquired brain injuries (traumatic brain injuries and strokes).

Dr Elena Muñoz 

Dr Raquel Viejo

Cognitive NeuroLab 

Reduction of nicotine addiction through non-invasive brain stimulation techniques

Nicotine addiction is often characterized by dysfunctional cognitive control, an uncontrolled reward impulse and an altered decision-making process. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can be used to increase self-control in habitual tobacco users, reducing the anxiety caused by abstinence and giving up nicotine. This technique has already been used to successfully reduce cravings and tobacco consumption, but the optimal parameters for implementing it as a common treatment are yet to be established. Our main goal is to improve the DCS treatment parameters used to help smoking cessation. 

Dr Elena Muñoz 

Dr Raquel Viejo

Cognitive NeuroLab

Language disorders in children

Language is one of the most important human abilities we learn from birth; however, some children struggle in acquiring language. The Cognition and Language Research Group (GRECIL) studies language processing (specifically language acquisition), language learning, assessment, intervention, understanding and production in adults and children with or without language-associated disorders (language development disorder, dyslexia, autism and neurodegenerative diseases). We study the phonological, grammatical, pragmatic, conceptual and referential aspects related with language processing and the development of these processes in children and adults, as well as the intelligibility of their oral productions. To achieve this, we use a number of descriptive and experimental methodologies. 

The most important lines of research we are working on now are:

  1. Real-time sentence comprehension in children with developmental language disorders (DLD)
  2. Bilingualism in children with developmental language disorders (DLD)
  3. Reading disorders in children with history of developmental language disorders (DLD) 
Dr Llorenç Andreu  GRECIL

Development, intervention and evidence-based practice in childhood communication disorders

Successful communication requires crucial abilities related to language (pragmatics), the use of multimodal outputs and inputs (speech, gestures) and interaction and theory of mind, among others. Some children struggle to acquire the ability to communicate (eg autism spectrum disorder, developmental language disorder). 

This line of research investigates the development, intervention and evidence-based practices in childhood communication and language disorders. 

We are currently interested in investigating:

  • How children with and without disorders develop the ability to communicate.
  • How we can improve the screening and assessment of communication and language disorders.
  • Which interventions are more effective and appropriate for communication and language disorders?
  • How evidence-based practice can be implemented in practical settings when working with communication and language disorders.

Dr Alfonso Igualada 


Acquiring the sounds of a language: challenges in typical and clinical populations

Language is principally an oral phenomenon, so acquiring the phonology of a language is key for successful communication. This line of research investigates how infants, children and adults acquire the sounds of a language (phonemes, intonation, rhythm, stress), how phonology interacts with other factors like body language and how individual linguistic, cognitive and communicative skills may influence this acquisition. 

We conduct experimental research using production methods and language processing techniques in collaboration with researchers from the UOC's Cognition and Language Research Group (GRECIL) and the University of Barcelona's Language Acquisition Research Group (GRAL), as well as several other international labs. 

We are currently working on the following main research topics (but any project related to the acquisition of phonology in typical and clinical populations is welcome): 

  • How prosody (intonation, rhythm, stress) and body language impact on the production and comprehension of sentences in children with developmental language disorders.
  • Individual differences in the use of prosody and body language in typical language development.
  • The integration of acoustic, visual and tactile cues in learning non-native phonological inventories, in adults with sensory disabilities (visual or hearing impairment) and in adult controls.
Dr Núria Esteve-Gibert