New ERC Advanced Grant to study the coherence between brain rhythms and speech

Manuel Carreiras, Ikerbasque Research Professor and Scientific Director of the BCBL research center, is one of the 11 Spanish researchers who have received an ERC Advanced Grant from the European Research Council this year.

In total, the 2023 call has selected 255 projects, among 1,829 applications submitted, which will distribute 652 million euros of financing from the European Union.

Among them, in the area of ​​Social Sciences and Humanities, is the CORTICAL RHYTHMS project, led by Manuel Carreiras, who will receive 2.5 million euros to carry out research over 5 years that will seek to increase knowledge about the coherence between brain and speech rhythms at different frequencies and with different populations in order to identify biomarkers and develop novel neurofeedback algorithms to create better diagnostic and intervention tools.

«Every time we hear someone speak, our brain waves synchronize with those of the sender. In this study we will track this synchrony to understand the cognitive mechanisms behind it, identify biomarkers and be able to develop more effective intervention programs based on neurofeedback for problems such as dyslexia and improve the processes of learning new languages," explains Carreiras. To this end, during the study, neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography or magnetoencephalography and neurofeedback will be used to collect and analyze brain data of different natures, which will serve to better understand the mechanisms underlying brain functioning when something is not going well - such as in dyslexia, or when something can be enhanced - such as language learning with neurofeedback techniques. Specifically, the project team will work with several groups of participants: 4-month-old babies, "who will periodically measure their performance until reading is consolidated," adds Manuel Carreiras; "boys and girls of preschool age, as well as illiterate adults, who start the reading phase; and, finally, adults who study a second language such as Basque or a sign language, both with very diverse linguistic characteristics."

The ERC Advanced Grants, among the most prestigious in the EU, provide leading researchers in Europe with the opportunity to develop ambitious projects that can lead to important scientific discoveries and also provide the possibility of generating new jobs for new research staff.

In the case of Carreiras, Ikerbasque professor, honorary professor at the University College of London (UCL) and distinguished researcher at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), this scholarship recognizes his career as scientific director and leader of the Neurobiology research group of the BCBL.

«We are very proud of this recognition and what it means for the scientific prestige of both Manuel and the center. The selected projects do not reach 14%, which indicates the difficulty of receiving one of these scholarships," highlighted Ana Fernández, manager of BCBL.