I am a Research Associate at in the Department of Psychology of the University of York and York Neuroimaging Centre working with Professor Beth Jefferies. I received my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging from the University of York (2020), and my MSc in Clinical Neuropsychology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. I am interested in understanding how large-scale cortical networks and intrinsic connectivity gradients organise to give rise to semantic cognition and language through the interaction of control and default mode networks. My main research tools have included fMRI (both task-based and resting-state), gradient decomposition, multivariate analyses, DTI tractography, TMS, cognitive paradigms, automated meta-analytical techniques and cognitive decoding.
As a general approach to research, I am keen on promoting open science, replicability and data-sharing best practices with my future work, pushing for greater transparency, integration and replicability of results across labs in the world. I would like to do further work with fMRI and TMS, as well as expanding to MEG to probe the temporal resolution and causal dynamics of semantic processing. I would be especially interested in joining a research environment in which I can expand my methodological and analysis toolbox and solve more complex questions through collaborative research.
I have worked as a neuroscience research fellow, lecturer and clinical neuropsychologist in three countries over the last 10 years. Born in Merida (Yucatan, Mexico), I received my undegraduate degree in Psychology by Universidad Anahuac, and went on to do an integrated MSc, combining two clinical internships in hospitals with Masters studies in Neuropsychology at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. After developing an interest in language neuroscience, I was awarded an international rotation grant as a result of outstanding clinical work during my internships to Centro Internacional de Restauracion Neurologica in Havana, Cuba.
Having returned to Mexico after the international rotation and receiving my MSc degree, I was offered a research fellowship at my Alma Mater, the school of Psychology of Universidad Anahuac Mayab. There, I started the Cognitive and Clinical Neuropsychology Research Group, where my research focussed on hemispheric differences in language processing, measured mainly through behavioural methods such as dichotic listening, semantic priming and divided visual fields. During this post I accepted a lectureship in the school of Psychology, where I mainly thaught psychology of language, research methods, experimental psychology, neuropsychology, neuroanatomy and statistics.
After three projects in the research fellowship, my interests shifted to the neural bases of semantics; this led me to pursue a PhD on the subject, which I recently graduated. Under the supervision of Professors Beth Jefferies and Jonny Smallwood in the Department of Psychology of University of York and York Neuroimaging Centre, I worked on hemispheric differences in semantic cognition using fMRI as my main neuroimaging tool. My PhD thesis investigated differences in intrinsic connectivity of key regions of the semantic cognition network across the hemispheres and their behavioural consequences, using a combination of resting-state and task-based fMRI, large-scale cortical network interactions, individual differences approaches, automated meta-analytical techniques and cognitive decoding. The results of the PhD work, both for my thesis and in collaborations with the broader research group can be consulted in my recent publications
On my free time, I like to learn programming languages andimprove on scripting through personal projects and work in visual arts projects as a hobby: ( VJing, glitch and algorithmic art, film criticism [in Spanish]), reading, listening to podcasts and playing videogames (you can find me on Blizzard [tarantirso#1468], Steam , Xbox [tarantirso] or MTG Arena [tarantirso#98874]).
PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging (United Kingdom), 2020
University of Yorkk
MSc in Clinical Neuropsychology
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (Mexico City)
Internship in Clinical Neuropsychology
Centro Internacional de Restauracion Neurologica (Havana, Cuba)
FSL/FMRIB Software Library
GE 3T Signa Excite HDX
Decomposition of whole-brain functional connectivity patterns reveals a principal gradient that captures the separation of sensorimotor cortex from heteromodal regions in the default mode network (DMN). Functional homotopy is strongest in sensorimotor areas, and weakest in heteromodal cortices, suggesting there may be differences between the left and right hemispheres (LH/RH) in the principal gradient, especially towards its apex. This study characterised hemispheric differences in the position of large-scale cortical networks along the principal gradient, and their functional significance. We collected resting-state fMRI and semantic, working memory and non-verbal reasoning performance in 175 + healthy volunteers. We then extracted the principal gradient of connectivity for each participant, tested which networks showed significant hemispheric differences on the gradient, and regressed participants’ behavioural efficiency in tasks outside the scanner against interhemispheric gradient differences for each network. LH showed a higher overall principal gradient value, consistent with its role in heteromodal semantic cognition. One frontotemporal control subnetwork was linked to individual differences in semantic cognition: when it was nearer heteromodal DMN on the principal gradient in LH, participants showed more efficient semantic retrieval—and this network also showed a strong hemispheric difference in response to semantic demands but not working memory load in a separate study. In contrast, when a dorsal attention subnetwork was closer to the heteromodal end of the principal gradient in RH, participants showed better visual reasoning. Lateralization of function may reflect differences in connectivity between control and heteromodal regions in LH, and attention and visual regions in RH.
The semantic network is thought to include multiple components, including heteromodal conceptual representations and semantic control processes that shape retrieval to suit the circumstances. Much of this network is strongly left-lateralised; however, work to date has not considered whether separable components of semantic cognition have different degrees of lateralisation. This study examined intrinsic connectivity of four regions implicated in heteromodal semantic cognition, identified using large scale meta-analyses: two sites which have been argued to act as heteromodal semantic hubs in anterior temporal lobe (ATL) and angular gyrus (AG); and two sites implicated in semantic control in inferior frontal (IFG) and posterior middle temporal gyri (pMTG). We compared the intrinsic connectivity of these sites in left hemisphere (LH) and right hemisphere (RH), and linked individual differences in the strength of within- and between-hemisphere connectivity from left-lateralised seeds to performance on semantic tasks, in a sample of 196 healthy volunteers. ATL showed more symmetrical patterns of intrinsic connectivity than the other three sites. The connectivity between IFG and pMTG was stronger in the LH than the RH, suggesting that the semantic control network is strongly left-lateralised. The degree of hemispheric lateralisation also predicted behaviour: participants with stronger intrinsic connectivity within the LH had better semantic performance, while those with stronger intrinsic connectivity between left pMTG and homotopes of semantic regions in the RH performed more poorly on judgements of weak associations, which require greater control. Stronger connectivity between left AG and visual cortex was also linked to poorer perceptual performance. Overall, our results show that hemispheric lateralisation is particularly important for the semantic control network, and that this lateralisation has contrasting functional consequences for the retrieval of dominant and subordinate aspects of knowledge
We frequently guide our decisions about when and how to act based on the meanings of perceptual inputs: we might avoid treading on a flower, but not on a leaf. However, most research on response inhibition has used simple perceptual stimuli devoid of meaning. In two Go/No-Go experiments, we examined whether the neural mechanisms supporting response inhibition are influenced by the relevance of meaning to the decision, and by presentation modality (whether concepts were presented as words or images). In an on-line fMRI experiment, we found common regions for response inhibition across perceptual and conceptual decisions. These included the bilateral intraparietal sulcus and the right inferior frontal sulcus, whose neural responses have been linked to diverse cognitive demands in previous studies. In addition, we identified a cluster in ventral lateral occipital cortex that was sensitive to the modality of input, with a stronger response to No-Go than Go trials for meaningful images, compared to words with the same semantic content. In a second experiment, using resting-state fMRI, we explored how individual variation in the intrinsic connectivity of these activated regions related to variation in behavioural performance. Participants who showed stronger connectivity between common inhibition regions and limbic areas in medial temporal and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex were better at inhibition when this was driven by the meaning of the items. In addition, regions with a specific role in picture inhibition were more connected to a cluster in the thalamus/caudate for participants who were better at performing the picture task outside of the scanner. Together these studies indicate that the capacity to appropriately withhold action depends on interactions between common control regions, which are important across multiple types of input and decision, and other brain regions linked to specific inputs (i.e., visual features) or representations (e.g., memory).
Designed, implemented, analysed and wrote up three research projects, disseminating their results as publications and presentations at international conferences, while collaborating in several other projects in the broader research group:
Supervised 10 students’ data collection for dissertation and taught in 17 courses at the MSc and undergraduate levels.
Designed, implemented, analysed and secured funding for three major research projects in cognitive and clinical neuropsychology:
Supervised 17 undergraduate students’ research as principal investigator. Helped consolidate a collegiate body in Health science with researchers in the schools of Medicine and Nutrition Science. Organised national symposia and conferences in Neuropsychology. Helped start the Mexican Journal of Neuropsychology in collaboration with the Mexican Association of Neuropsychology.
Designed, lectured, assessed and tutored 19 undergraduate and postgraduate courses in research methods, statistics, experimental psychology, clinical and cognitive neuropsychology, cognitive psychology and language development and disorders. These courses were mainly delivered in the schools of Psychology and Medicine in Anahuac Mayab (Yucatan), and as visiting lecturer in Universidad Marista (Yucatan), Facultad de Psicologia UNAM, Universidad Anahuac Mexico Sur and Universidad Latina (Mexico City). A comprehensive list of teaching can be consulted here.
Helped develop and design curricula for Psychopedagogy, a new undergraduate degree in Anahuac Mayab University’s Department of Psychology, and for the Neuropsychology Practicum in Anahuac Mayab’s Teaching Hospital.