Nuestros investigadores

Javier Bernácer María

Líneas de investigación
Distribución de las interneuronas estriatales en el cerebro humano, Análisis del compartimento estriosomal en el cerebro humano, Modelos tridimensionales de la inervación dopaminérgica y serotoninérgica en el tálamo del primate no humano, Alteraciones morfológicas y funcionales en esquizofrenia, Efectos de la metanfetamina en el aprendizaje por refuerzo y su relación con los síntomas psicóticos, Impacto de la adquisición de hábitos en la actividad cerebral medida por resonancia magnética funcional, Incertidumbre causada por el esfuerzo físico en la toma de decisiones, Estudio interdisciplinar sobre el impacto de la adquisición de hábitos en la toma de decisiones humana
Índice H
10, (Google Scholar, 14/03/2017)

Publicaciones científicas más recientes (desde 2010)

Autores: Arrondo, Gonzalo; Bernácer, J; Díaz-Robredo, L;
Revista: EDUCACION MEDICA
ISSN 1575-1813  Vol. 18  Nº 4  2017  págs. 267 - 269
La conformación de las estructuras anatómicas es compleja en los 3 planos del espacio. Históricamente, la enseñanza de la anatomía se ha hecho a partir de representaciones bidimensionales, de modelos físicos tridimensionales o de cuerpos reales. Solo recientemente ha sido factible crear modelos anatómicos digitales tridimensionales, que pueden ser explorados en línea a través de Internet. El objetivo del presente trabajo es analizar 2 de las herramientas en línea más conocidas para la visualización anatómica (Anatomography® y BioDigital® Human), y presentar una experiencia docente de uso en el área de neurociencias. Se crearon imágenes de estructuras cerebrales animadas que se usaron en clase posteriormente, y se preguntó a los alumnos sobre su interés y utilidad. Los resultados indicaron que la utilización de este tipo de recursos es interesante por su flexibilidad, atractivo y coste.
Autores: Bernácer, J;
Revista: SCIENTIA ET FIDES
ISSN 2300-7648  Vol. 4  Nº 2  2016  págs. 437 - 445
In this article, I discuss the importance of multidisciplinary research to tackle the questions that empirical sciences, and in particular neuroscience, ultimately encounter. The last decades have witnessed an enormous progress in brain research, mainly because of the improvement of neuroimaging techniques and neurogenetics, and the development of optogenetics. Furthermore, the US Government and European Union have launched the BRAIN Initiative and Human Brain Project, respectively, to promote a better understanding of brain functioning and its disorders. Unfortunately, their gates appear sealed for disciplines that pursue a deep knowledge of the mind, such as philosophy or psychology. The most probable outcome of this situation is ¿promissory materialism¿, as Sir John Eccles warned several decades ago. I review the multidisciplinary approach of Eccles to the study of the brain and mind, especially through his relationship with Mariano Artigas. Finally, I propose that interdisciplinary research may be improved by a more solid understanding of the discipline one wants to dialogue with, and a multidisciplinary training from the beginning of the research career.
Autores: Orón Semper, J. V.; Murillo, José Ignacio; Bernácer, J;
Revista: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY
ISSN 1664-1078  Vol. 7  2016  págs. 1263
In this article we introduce the hypothesis that neuropsychological adolescent maturation, and in particular emotional management, may have opposing explanations depending on the interpretation of the assumed brain architecture, that is, whether a componential computational account (CCA) or a dynamic systems perspective (DSP) is used. According to CCA, cognitive functions are associated with the action of restricted brain regions, and this association is temporally stable; by contrast, DSP argues that cognitive functions are better explained by interactions between several brain areas, whose engagement in specific functions is temporal and context-dependent and based on neural reuse. We outline the main neurobiological facts about adolescent maturation, focusing on the neuroanatomical and neurofunctional processes associated with adolescence. We then explain the importance of emotional management in adolescent maturation. We explain the interplay between emotion and cognition under the scope of CCA and DSP, both at neural and behavioral levels. Finally, we justify why, according to CCA, emotional management is understood as regulation, specifically because the cognitive aspects of the brain are in charge of regulating emotion-related modules. However, the key word in DSP is integration, since neural information from different brain areas is integrated from the beginning of the process. Consequently, although the terms should not be conceptually confused, there is no cognition without emotion, and vice versa. Thus, emotional integration is not an independent process that just happens to the subject, but a crucial part of personal growth. Considering the importance of neuropsychological research in the development of educational and legal policies concerning adolescents, we intend to expose that the holistic view of adolescents is dependent on whether one holds the implicit or explicit interpretation of brain functioning.
Autores: Orón, José Víctor; Murillo, José Ignacio; Bernácer, J;
Revista: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY
ISSN 1664-1078  Vol. 7  2016  págs. 1- 12
Autores: Bernácer, J;
Revista: SCIENTIA ET FIDES
ISSN 2300-7648  Vol. 4  Nº 2  2016  págs. 437 - 445
In this article, I discuss the importance of multidisciplinary research to tackle the questions that empirical sciences, and in particular neuroscience, ultimately encounter. The last decades have witnessed an enormous progress in brain research, mainly because of the improvement of neuroimaging techniques and neurogenetics, and the development of optogenetics. Furthermore, the US Government and European Union have launched the BRAIN Initiative and Human Brain Project, respectively, to promote a better understanding of brain functioning and its disorders. Unfortunately, their gates appear sealed for disciplines that pursue a deep knowledge of the mind, such as philosophy or psychology. The most probable outcome of this situation is "promissory materialism", as Sir John Eccles warned several decades ago. I review the multidisciplinary approach of Eccles to the study of the brain and mind, especially through his relationship with Mariano Artigas. Finally, I propose that interdisciplinary research may be improved by a more solid understanding of the discipline one wants to dialogue with, and a multidisciplinary training from the beginning of the research career.
Autores: Echarte-Alonso, Luis E; Bernácer, J; Larrivee, D.; et al.
Revista: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY
ISSN 1664-1078  Vol. 7  2016  págs. 117
A substantial minority of patients with terminal illness hold unrealistically hopeful beliefs about the severity of their disease or the nature of its treatment, considering therapy as curative rather than palliative. We propose that this attitude may be understood as self-deception, following the current psychological theories about this topic. In this article we suggest that the reason these patients deceive themselves is to preserve their belief systems. According to some philosophical accounts, the human belief system (HBS) is constituted as a web with a few stable central nodes - deep-seated beliefs - intimately related with the self. We hypothesize that the mind may possess defensive mechanisms, mostly non-conscious, that reject certain sensory inputs (e.g., a fatal diagnosis) that may undermine deep-seated beliefs. This interpretation is in line with the theory of cognitive dissonance. Following this reasoning, we also propose that HBS-related self-deception would entail a lower cognitive load than that associated with confronting the truth: whereas the latter would engage a myriad of high cognitive functions to re-configure crucial aspects of the self, including the setting of plans, goals, or even a behavioral output, the former would be mostly non-conscious. Overall, we believe that our research supports the hypothesis that in cases of terminal illness, (self-)deceiving requires less effort than accepting the truth.
Autores: Bernácer, J;
Revista: ANUARIO FILOSOFICO
ISSN 0066-5215  Vol. 48  Nº 3  2015  págs. 575 - 578
Autores: Bernácer, J; Lombo, J. A.; Murillo, José Ignacio;
Revista: FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE
ISSN 1662-5161  Vol. 9  2015  págs. 468
Autores: Güell, Francisco; Bernácer, J;
Revista: FRONTIERS IN BEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENCE
ISSN 1662-5153  Vol. 9  2015  págs. 59
Autores: Bernácer, J; Murillo, José Ignacio;
Revista: FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE
ISSN 1662-5161  Vol. 8  2014  págs. 883
The notion of habit used in neuroscience is an inheritance from a particular theoretical origin, whose main source is William James. Thus, habits have been characterized as rigid, automatic, unconscious, and opposed to goal-directed actions. This analysis leaves unexplained several aspects of human behavior and cognition where habits are of great importance. We intend to demonstrate the utility that another philosophical conception of habit, the Aristotelian, may have for neuroscientific research. We first summarize the current notion of habit in neuroscience, its philosophical inspiration and the problems that arise from it, mostly centered on the sharp distinction between goal-directed actions and habitual behavior. We then introduce the Aristotelian view and we compare it with that of William James. For Aristotle, a habit is an acquired disposition to perform certain types of action. If this disposition involves an enhanced cognitive control of actions, it can be considered a "habit-as-learning". The current view of habit in neuroscience, which lacks cognitive control and we term "habit-as-routine", is also covered by the Aristotelian conception. He classifies habits into three categories: (1) theoretical, or the retention of learning understood as "knowing that x is so"; (2) behavioral, through which the agent achieves a rational control of emotion-permeated behavior ("knowing how to behave"); and (3) technical or learned skills ("knowing how to make or to do")...
Autores: Martinez-Valbuena, I.; Bernácer, J;
Revista: FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE
ISSN 1662-5161  Vol. 8  2014  págs. 614
Autores: Bernácer, J; Balderas, G.; Martínez-Valbuena, I.; et al.
Revista: BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES
ISSN 0140-525X  Vol. 37  Nº 1  2014  págs. 21 - 22
Newell & Shanks (N&S) carry out an extremely sharp and static distinction between conscious and unconscious decisions, ignoring a process that dynamically transfers decisions and actions between the conscious and unconscious domains of the mind: habitual decision making. We propose a new categorisation and discuss the main characteristics of this process from a philosophical and neuroscientific perspective.
Autores: Bernácer, J; Corlett, P.; Ramachandra, P.; et al.
Revista: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY
ISSN 0002-953X  Vol. 170  Nº 11  2013  págs. 1326 - 1334
Objective Frontostriatal circuitry is critical to learning processes, and its disruption may underlie maladaptive decision making and the generation of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia. However, there is a paucity of evidence directly examining the role of modulatory neurotransmitters on frontostriatal function in humans. In order to probe the effects of modulation on frontostriatal circuitry during learning and to test whether disruptions in learning processes may be related to the pathogenesis of psychosis, the authors explored the brain representations of reward prediction error and incentive value, two key reinforcement learning parameters, before and after methamphetamine challenge. Method Healthy volunteers (N=18) underwent functional MRI (fMRI) scanning while performing a reward learning task on three occasions: after placebo, after methamphetamine infusion (0.3 mg/kg body weight), and after pretreatment with 400 mg of amisulpride and then methamphetamine infusion. Brain fMRI representations of learning signals, calculated using a reinforcement Q-learning algorithm, were compared across drug conditions. Results In the placebo condition, reward prediction error was coded in the ventral striatum bilaterally and incentive value in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex bilaterally. Reward prediction error and incentive value signals were disrupted by methamphetamine in the left nucleus accumbens and left ventromedial prefrontal cortex, respectively. Psychotic symptoms
Autores: Bernácer, J; Giménez, José Manuel;
Revista: PLOS ONE
ISSN 1932-6203  Vol. 7  Nº 1  2012 
ICSBackground: The afferent projections of the striatum (caudate nucleus and putamen) are segregated in three territories: associative, sensorimotor and limbic. Striatal interneurons are in part responsible for the integration of these different types of information. Among them, GABAergic interneurons are the most abundant, and can be sorted in three populations according to their content in the calcium binding proteins calretinin (CR), parvalbumin (PV) and calbindin (CB). Conversely, striatal dopaminergic cells (whose role as interneurons is still unclear) are scarce. This study aims to analyze the interneuron distribution in the striatal functional territories, as well as their organization regarding to the striosomal compartment. Methodology/Principal Findings: We used immunohistochemical methods to visualize CR, PV, CB and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) positive striatal neurons. The interneuronal distribution was assessed by stereological methods applied to every striatal functional territory. Considering the four cell groups altogether, their density was higher in the associative (2120 +/- 91 cells/mm(3)) than in the sensorimotor (959 +/- 47 cells/mm(3)) or limbic (633 +/- 119 cells/mm(3)) territories. CB- and TH-immunoreactive (-ir) cells were distributed rather homogeneously in the three striatal territories. However, the density of CR and PV interneurons were more abundant in the associative and sensorimotor striatum, respectively. Regarding to their compartmental organiz
Autores: Bernácer, J; Murillo, José Ignacio;
Revista: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY
ISSN 1664-1078  Vol. 3  2012  págs. 418
Autores: Horga, G.; Bernácer, J; Nicola, D.; et al.
Revista: EUROPEAN ARCHIVES OF PSYCHIATRY AND CLINICAL NEUROSCIENCE
ISSN 0940-1334  Vol. 261  Nº 7  2011  págs. 467 - 476
Ventricular enlargement is one of the most consistent abnormal structural brain findings in schizophrenia and has been used to infer brain shrinkage. However, whether ventricular enlargement is related to local overlying cortex and/or adjacent subcortical structures or whether it is related to brain volume change globally has not been assessed. We systematically assessed interrelations of ventricular volumes with gray and white matter volumes of 40 Brodmann areas (BAs), the thalamus and its medial dorsal nucleus and pulvinar, the internal capsule, caudate and putamen. We acquired structural MRI ( patients with schizophrenia (n = 64) and healthy controls (n = 56)) and diffusion tensor fractional anisotropy (FA) (untreated schizophrenia n = 19, controls n = 32). Volumes were assessed by manual tracing of central structures and a semi-automated parcellation of BAs. Patients with schizophrenia had increased ventricular size associated with decreased cortical gray matter volumes widely across the brain; a similar but less pronounced pattern was seen in normal controls; local correlations (e.g. temporal horn with temporal lobe volume) were not appreciably higher than non-local correlations (e.g. temporal horn with prefrontal volume). White matter regions adjacent to the ventricles similarly did not reveal strong regional relationships. FA and center of mass of the anterior limb of the internal capsule also appeared differentially influenced by ventricular volume but findings were s
Autores: Güell, Francisco; Arrondo, Gonzalo; de Castro, María Pilar; et al.
Libro:  Psychiatry and neuroscience update: A translational approach
Vol. II  2017  págs. 105 - 116
In psychiatry, as in any other medical specialty, the clinician collects information from the patient¿s anamnesis, clinical observation, and diagnostic tests; evaluates these data; and makes a diagnosis. The most common manuals used to assess a patient¿s mental disease according to his or her symptoms are the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). This chapter focuses on the dialogue that philosophy and psychiatry have held for decades to achieve a better understanding of dissociative identity disorder (DID). The outcome of this dialogue is the expression of the diagnostic criteria for DID, as well as other dissociative disorders, in the medical manuals. Thus, we first analyze the evolution of DID across the different versions of ICD and DSM. We then show that the characterization of DID and other dissociative disorders is a lively debate that is far from being settled. We demonstrate that the core of this debate is the understanding of person after John Locke¿s philosophy: a person is defined by the apparent expression of consciousness and memories. This leads to what we have termed a primary conceptual dissociation: the mental qualities of the person are dissociated from the body. We propose an alternative account based on the dynamic nature of identity and the understanding of person as a mind¿body unity. We hope that our proposal, which results from the interdisciplinary dialogue between psychiat
Autores: Bernácer, J; Murillo, José Ignacio;
Libro:  Before consciousness: in search of the fundamentals of mind
2017  págs. 226 - 246
Autores: Bernácer, J; Martínez-Valbuena, I.; Martínez, M.; et al.
Libro:  Motivation theory, neurobiology and applications
Vol. 229  2016  págs. 103 - 123
One key aspect of motivation is the ability of agents to overcome excessive weighting of intrinsic subjective costs. This contribution aims to analyze the subjective cost of effort and assess its neural correlates in sedentary volunteers. We recruited a sample of 57 subjects who underwent a decision-making task using a prospective, moderate, and sustained physical effort as devaluating factor. Effort discounting followed a hyperbolic function, and individual discounting constants correlated with an indicator of sedentary lifestyle (global physical activity questionnaire; R = -0.302, P = 0.033). A subsample of 24 sedentary volunteers received a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan while performing a similar effort-discounting task. BOLD signal of a cluster located in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex correlated with the subjective value of the pair of options under consideration (Z > 2.3, P < 0.05; cluster corrected for multiple comparisons for the whole brain). Furthermore, effort-related discounting of reward correlated with the signal of a cluster in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (Z > 2.3, P < 0.05; small volume cluster corrected for a region of interest including the ventral prefrontal cortex and striatum). This study offers empirical data about the intrinsic subjective cost of effort and its neural correlates in sedentary individuals.
Autores: Bernácer, J; Giménez, José Manuel;
Libro:  Is science compatible with free will?
2012  págs. 177 - 193
The notion of habit learning in Neuroscience implies the automation of 5 an action, which thus discharges consciousness from the supervision of its perfor- 6 mance and eventually restricts flexibility. It has also been assumed that habit 7 learning is against free will, as it has been suggested for pathological conditions 8 such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. This point of view, which might be contro- 9 versial with other notions of habituation, could be an interesting context to analyze 10 at what extent human actions emerge from free will and are consciously carried out. 11 The well-known experiments performed by Benjamin Libet and replicated by 12 others have led some scientists to deny the concept of free will in the human 13 being. However, we think that these experiments posit further questions that should 14 be tackled from a broader point of view. For example: does the readiness potential 15 univocally point to the initiation of any kind of action? Can it be also found in non- 16 deterministic novel actions? Is it causally related to the action, or is it just a ¿mental 17 rehearsal¿ of the action to come? In this contribution, we will try to make a note on 18 these topics in order to explain the neuroscientific concept of habit learning and to 19 relate it to free will in a broader and more philosophical interdisciplinary framework.
Autores: Bernácer, J, (Editor); Lombo, J. A., (Editor); Murillo, José Ignacio, (Editor)
2015 

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