Meet the team

Prof. Rodrigo Quian Quiroga


Research Centre Director

Rodrigo is basically puzzled by how the brain works. In particular he is interested is principles of Neural Coding, visual perception, memory, visuo-motor transformations, single-trial evoked potentials, synchronization and the development of methods for the analysis of neurophysiology data.

Rodrigo claims he makes the best asado argentino within the UK neuroscience community.

e-mail: rqqg1 (@)le(dot)ac(dot)uk



Emma Hawkins 1

Emma Hawkins

Research Centre Manager

Emma recently joined the Centre providing the group with operational support and management.

e-mail: Emma Hawkins





Hernan Rey


Hernan is working on single cell recordings from the human brain in collaboration with the Epilepsy Research Group at King’s College London. Particularly, he is interested in studying the timing of medial temporal lobe responses. He is also interested in abstract concept learning and decision making.



Michael Okun

Research Fellow

Upon completing a Ph.D. in computer science Michael realised he would rather study neuroscience, and ended up investigating neuronal population dynamics in cortical microcircuits. This remains Michael's primary research interest to this very day.



Jian Lin


Jian will shortly be joining the Centre.


Post Doctoral Researchers

Flavio Mourao

Flavio is interested in how neural networks encode sensory information and how they operate as functional circuits able to generate endogenous activity and observable behaviour. During his phD at the “Núcleo de Neurociências” (UFMG-Brazil), he acquired experience in behaviour analysis, microscopy and electrophysiology coupled with paradigms of memory and learning.

His goal for the next few years is to expand his knowledge in frontiers experimental methodologies that combine behaviour paradigms and extracellular electrophysiological records. His project proposes as central hypothesis that the function of the hippocampus of rodents goes beyond the space navigation, being an ideal system for the study of the conceptual representations.


Taylan Taken

Is joining the Centre to undertake Analysis of Imaging Recordings in Mice.

Martynas Dervinis


PhD Candidates

Manuel Franco Arias

Manuel Franco Arias

Manuel is a Biomedical Engineer graduated at Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (Cali, Colombia) and has just started his PhD after completing a Master Degree at the Universidad del Valle, in Biomedical Sciences. He is interested in Evoked Potential generation after continuously visual stimuli. Manuel is granted by PhD COLCIENCIAS scholarship.

He cooks the best “Sancocho”, a delicious Colombian typical soup, in Leicester.



Brendan O'Conner


Brendan is a psychology graduate interested in memory, navigation, sensory processing and neuroethology. The aim of his PhD project is to study concept representations in the mouse hippocampus as animals navigate in a virtual reality environment.

Brendan has been rumoured to make the best baked beans on toast in the greater New Parks area.



Guadalupe Pascal

Guada is working on methods to identify the activity of neurons from multiple siterecordings. From this she will develop new advanced methods to combine information from different site recordings.

John Pflug

John recently joined the CSN to start his PhD research investigating 'concept cells’ in the hippocampus and surrounding medial temporal lobe to probe the neural mechanisms of memory formation in humans.

Email: Jack Pflug


Visiting Fellows

Fernando ChaureFernando Chaure

Fernando is working on unsupervised spike sorting algorithms, focusing upon long-duration and multi-channel recordings. He is also maintaining the code of Wave_Clus and developing graphic tools for data analysis. He is interested in machine learning and data mining.

Fernando is trying to learn how to bake, but in the meantime he loves eating the food made by the team.

Belén Gori

Belen is a biologist researching her PhD in the School of Medicine, University of

Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has been awarded a Scholarship funded by Bec.Ar Training Program abroad in Science and Technology to join the Centre. She is working on visual perception and memory in patients with epilepsy, by recording single cell and local field potential activity of the human brain.



Adria Tauste

I plan to study how memories are generated, maintained and recalledin humans through the simultaneous analysis of single-neuron responses, local field potentials and intracranial EEG recordings from epileptic patients during specific cognitive tasks.

Associate Members

Prof. Ian Forsythe

Todor Girdjikov

The overall aim of my research is to understand how cortical and related brain regions encode sensory stimuli as well as cognitive procesTodorses related to attention and motivated behaviour. My work relies on awake electrophysiological recordings and optogenetics in target structures including sensorimotor and prefrontal cortex as well as striatum

David Souto

davidDavid is interested in visuo-motor interactions, in particular the visual processing that is required to execute saccadic and smooth pursuit eye movements. His investigations use a combination of psychophysical modelling and oculometric measurements. In collaboration with the Centre for Systems Neuroscience he plans to use fixation-related potentials extracted from the EEG signal to uncover the cortical processing of visual prediction errors during saccades.


Vincenzo Marra Meet the team

Vincenzo is interested in how neurons communicate using electrical and chemical signals. He uses a range of techniques to study neurotransmission at different levels to investigate how localised changes can affect entire networks in healthy and pathological conditions such as epilepsy


Emanuele Schiavon

Emanuele Schiavon

Emanuele joined the centre in January 2015. He has a broad interest for the physiology and the pathology of the brain. His research with the Centre covered the molecular mechanisms of signal and synaptic transmission as well as the study of compounds that are able to modulate neuronal homeostasis. With a background in electrophysiology and a PhD in physiology he recorded neuronal activity while mice explored a virtual environment.


Fanis PanagiotarapoulosFanis Panagiotaropoulos

Fanis is interested in the electrophysiological correlates of consciousness and memory and the functional structure of electrophysiological activity in the brain.

His research in the Centre for Systems Neuroscience involved intracortical recordings of single cells and local field potentials from the medial temporal lobe of human epileptic patients at King’s College, London. He holds a visiting researcher position at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany, where his group investigates the neural correlates of conscious perception and predictive coding in the non-human primate brain.

Julieta Campi


Julieta is worked on a project to provide new insights to understand memory formation in the hippocampus. To do this, she combined in vivo electrophysiology with neuroimaging (co-supervised by Prof Ian Forsythe) of mice place cells navigating on a virtual environment.




Emanuela De Falco


Emanuela  recently left the research centre after working on a new collaborative project, funded by the Human Frontiers Science Program.





Alex Varatharajah


Alex studied for his PhD with the Centre after completing a bachelors at the University of Leicester in Electrical and Electronic engineering. He is interested in Cognitive Neuroscience and was working on a facial recognition project.



Federico ZimmermanFederico
Honorary visiting fellow

Federico is an electronic engineer specialised in biomedical applications. He takes advantage of the fact that we spend most of our time using our smartphones and tablets in order to develop applications for both entertainment and large-scale cognitive experiments.He visited the centre for 6 months in 2017.




Joaquin Navajas

Honorary Visiting Fellow

Joaquin is continuing his work on the development of an online and unsupervised spike sorting algorithm that will be implemented in a chip (collaboration with Imperial College London and Newcastle University). He's also interested in face perception and the neural correlates of consciousness.


Maryam Ahmadi Shapourabadi


Postdoctoral Researcher

Maryam's project seeks to study of single-trial evoked potentials, as recorded by an electroencephalogram and their correlation to different sensory and cognitive processes, such as pattern learning. A promising approach to extract the single trial evoked activity is to use a denoising implementation based on the Wavelet transform. She is working on the optimization of the denoising algorithm and study of several strategies to make it completely unsupervised.


Hugo Caffaratti


PhD Student

“The eyes are faster than the hands, the brain is even faster than the eyes. That's why you have to attack the brain. Magic is then, surprise, before everything surprise” Fu Manchu.
Hugo graduated in Biomedical Engineering at University of Barcelona (Spain). He is a semi-professional magician and member of the Spanish Society of Illusionism (SEI-ACAI). His PhD thesis project covered the pioneering field of Cognitive Neuroscience: The Neuro-Magic. He's particularly interested in investigating how the attention system modulates cognitive processes such as memory and conscious visual perception from paradigms based on techniques of the art of illusion.

Matias Ison

Lecturer in Bioengineering


Matias is currently collaborating with Dr. Fried's lab at UCLA on single cell recordings from the human brain to study the formation of memories by learning associations.With a background in computational and statistical physics (Ph.D. in Physics), he is interested in applying principles from information theory and statistical mechanics to the study of neural ensembles as well as in developing quantitative analysis techniques to extract new information from neural experimental data.

Dr. Ison is famous for his "empanadas" and "panqueques".


Pinar BoyrazPinar

Postdoctoral Researcher

Pinar will be working to optimise unsupervised online spike sorting algorithms in Wave_clus for ultra-low-powered brain-machine interfaces. She has a background in electrophysiological recordings from the primate visual cortex, and she will be combining extracellular recordings and optical imaging in the mouse hippocampus in our lab. She is particularly interested in the network interactions between neurons participating in the recall of specific memories.


Harsimrat Singh

Harsimrat Singh 200px

Postdoctoral Researcher

Harsimrat is a neural engineer with research experience in clinical and cognitive neuroscience. His doctoral research was on BCI approaches for ‘disorders of consciousness’. Before joining CSN, he undertook postdoctoral research at UCL in ‘Affective touch’ (UCL Interaction Centre) and ‘Neonatal seizures’ using multimodal imaging (neoLAB, Cambridge & Biomedical Optics Research Lab, UCL). At CSN, he is now working on developing reliable, unsupervised spike detection and sorting system.

Manuel MolanoManuel

Postdoctoral Researcher

Manuel is working on a project that involves simultaneous imaging (2-photon) and electrophysiology recordings in mice. With a background in Mathematics, he is interested in memory formation in the hippocampus and its spatial correlates. Manuel contributes to the imaging and electrophysiology data collection and analysis, and is currently developing the virtual environment for the mice.

Manuel makes the best croquetas in the UK.


Natalia GrionNatalia

Postdoctoral Researcher (Visiting Fellow)

In collaboration with the Visual Neuroscience Lab in SISSA led by Dr Zoccolan, Natalia is worked on a projectaimed to better understand how abstract representation arises in the functional architecture of the brain. She is particularly interested in how neural populations transform visual percepts into an abstract representation. The study involves simultaneous multiple single-cell recordings in MTL and visual cortex in rats engaged in an invariant recognition task.

She keeps a handwritten cookery book with her own recipes (and grandma’s) full of notes on variations and inspirations. She welcomes everybody to try some!


Zaira Pinedazaira

Postdoctoral Researcher

Zaira worked on neurophrostetic applications. She was implementing a neural network simulating previous recordings from the posterior parietal cortex in monkeys, reproducing the firing characteristics of neurons in this area to move a robot arm.

Zaira makes the best "guacamole" and "huevos a la mexicana" in Leicester.



Carlos PedreiraCarlos

Postdoctoral Researcher

Carlos worked on the analysis of human single-cell recordings and the formation of memories as sequences of events. He also worked in the optimization of spike sorting algorithms. Other interests of Carlos are neuroelectronic interfaces and neuroprosthetics.

Carlos makes the best "tortilla de patatas" in Leicester.



Cedric SpireCedric Spire

Visiting Student

Cedric joined us in February 2014 as part of a 4 month internship from Paris-Descartes University. He looked at design and program data processing techniques for optimal recordings from the eye-tracker and robotic arm.



Jennifer Binnie

PhD Student

Jen was involved in a collaborative project between the departments of Engineering and Museum Studies, and the Art Fund. This was looking at how people experience art within museums, and shall use eye-tracking and complementary ethnographic research techniques. She was supervised by Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, Sandra Dudley (Museum Studies) and David Barrie(Art Fund). This project is funded by AHRC and the Art Fund.


Luis Camunas

Postdoctoral Researcher

Luis worked on the analysis of multiple single-cell recordings from the nervous system of the locust in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Tom Matheson in the Department of Biology of the University of Leicester. Studying the correlation of these data, he is interested in the characterization of the roles of motor nerve cells during limb movements. He is also interested in bio-inspired sensorial information processing.


Lisandro Kaunitz

Postdoctoral Researcher

Lisandro joined the lab to work on a project that studied the EEG responses of subjects while they performed eye movements and watch natural scenes. With a special interest in visual perception, Lisandro has always been intrigued by the puzzle of visual awareness (particularly in the scope and limits of unconscious visual perception) and by how the brain keeps a stable conscious representation of the visual world across eye movements.


Vitor Lopes dos Santos

Visiting PhD Student

Vítor joined us in December 2012, for a one-year-long project from the Brain Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil. He was interested in how distributed neurons interact in order to process stimuli and store memories. He worked on the development and application of analysis tools that are able to extract meaningful patterns from large neuronal populations. Vítor is applying information theory and machine learning methodologies to quantify the information encoded by firing patterns and correlations in cell assemblies.


Mariano Molina

Artist in residence

Mariano is visual artist doing a rotation in the lab. The goal of his residence, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and by the Leverhulme Trust, was to study the links between neuroscience and arts in the study of visual perception. His rotation culminated with an exhibition "The art of visual perception" at Embrace Arts in January 2012.


Jonathan Becedas

Postdoctorial Researcher

Jonathan worked on a Neuroprosthetics project. He studied the activity of single-neurons to control a robotic arm for reaching and grasping objects to be used in handicapped people and amputees. He also collaborated with the UCLM to develop new position and force control strategies for robot manipulators.


Juan Martinez

PhD Student

Juan worked on the development of technology for the analysis of neural ensembles, specially spike sorting algorithms and realistic simulations of extracellular recordings. He is particulary interested in quantitative analysis techniques to extract relevant information from experimental datasets.

Juan Kamienkowsk - Visiting Researcher

Alberto Capurro - Postdoctoral Researcher

Andreas Kaltenbrunner - Erasmus rotating student

Emanuele Perugia - Erasmus rotating student


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Centre for Systems Neuroscience

George Davies Centre
Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour
University of Leicester
15 Lancaster Rd,
Leicester LE1 7HA


T +44 (0)116 252 3249


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