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portrait of Dr Beatriz Calvo-Merino

Dr Beatriz Calvo-Merino

Senior Lecturer in Psychology

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology

Contact Information


Visit Beatriz Calvo-Merino

D209, Rhind Building

Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



Dr Calvo-Merino is a cognitive neuroscientist trained at University College London (UCL, London, UK) and Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM, Madrid, Spain). Her initial PhD work with Professor Patrick Haggard investigated neurocognitive mechanisms involved in action observation, expertise and dance, using neuroimaging methods (fMRI). She worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience on a series of studies investigating visual and motor mechanisms of body perception by means of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Lately, she developed a line of research investigating the sensorimotor neural and cognitive underpinnings of aesthetic perception of performing arts (dance, in particular).

During her studies she has established collaborations with the dance community, (e.g. Royal Opera House Ballet (ROH2), Laban Dance Centre, Mavin Khoo, Tom Sapsford, Random Dance Company -Wayne McGregor -). Her work has been published and disseminated in important journals as well as artistic meetings and public engagement activities.

Her work has been funded by Economical and Social Research Council (ESRC), Leverhulme Trust, Wellcome Trust Sci/Art projects, Ramon y Cajal Fellowship, City University Fellowship, City University Pump Priming schema.


Dr Calvo-Merino would welcome enquiries from potential PhD students/researchers interested in any of these areas:

Sensorimotor processing of human body and movement & action observation
Visual/ motor memory, expertise, acquired motor skills
Neuroaesthetics, preference/aesthetic behaviour.


  1. Galvez-Pol, A., Forster, B. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2018). Modulation of motor cortex activity in a visual working memory task of hand images. Neuropsychologia, 117, pp. 75–83. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.05.005.
  2. Galvez-Pol, A., Calvo-Merino, B., Capilla, A. and Forster, B. (2018). Persistent recruitment of somatosensory cortex during active maintenance of hand images in working memory. NeuroImage, 174, pp. 153–163. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.03.024.
  3. Christensen, J.F., Gaigg, S.B. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2018). I can feel my heartbeat: Dancers have increased interoceptive accuracy. Psychophysiology, 55(4). doi:10.1111/psyp.13008.
  4. Christensen, J.F., Gomila, A., Gaigg, S., Sivarajah, N. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2016). Dance Expertise modulates behavioural and psychophysiological responses to affective body movement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42(8), pp. 1139–1147.
  5. (2015). When you smile, the world smiles at you: ERP evidence for self-expression effects on face processing. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10(10), pp. 1316–1322. doi:10.1093/scan/nsv009.
  6. Christensen, J.F., Gaigg, S.B., Gomila, A., Oke, P. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2014). Enhancing emotional experiences to dance through music: The role of valence and arousal in the cross-modal bias. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(OCT), p. 757. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00757.
  7. Vicary, S.A., Robbins, R.A., Calvo-Merino, B. and Stevens, C.J. (2014). Recognition of dance-like actions: memory for static posture or dynamic movement? Mem Cognit, 42(5), pp. 755–767. doi:10.3758/s13421-014-0395-0.
  8. Sel, A., Forster, B. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2014). The emotional homunculus: ERP evidence for independent somatosensory responses during facial emotional processing. J Neurosci, 34(9), pp. 3263–3267. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0106-13.2014.
  9. Calvo-Merino, B., Ehrenberg, S., Leung, D. and Haggard, P. (2010). Experts see it all: configural effects in action observation. Psychol Res, 74(4), pp. 400–406. doi:10.1007/s00426-009-0262-y.
  10. Calvo-Merino, B., Urgesi, C., Orgs, G., Aglioti, S.M. and Haggard, P. (2010). Extrastriate body area underlies aesthetic evaluation of body stimuli. Exp Brain Res, 204(3), pp. 447–456. doi:10.1007/s00221-010-2283-6.
  11. Calvo-Merino, B., Jola, C., Glaser, D.E. and Haggard, P. (2008). Towards a sensorimotor aesthetics of performing art. Conscious Cogn, 17(3), pp. 911–922. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2007.11.003.
  12. Urgesi, C., Calvo-Merino, B., Haggard, P. and Aglioti, S.M. (2007). Transcranial magnetic stimulation reveals two cortical pathways for visual body processing. J Neurosci, 27(30), pp. 8023–8030. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0789-07.2007.
  13. Calvo-Merino, B., Grèzes, J., Glaser, D.E., Passingham, R.E. and Haggard, P. (2006). Seeing or doing? Influence of visual and motor familiarity in action observation. Curr Biol, 16(19), pp. 1905–1910. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.07.065.
  14. Calvo-Merino, B., Glaser, D.E., Grèzes, J., Passingham, R.E. and Haggard, P. (2005). Action observation and acquired motor skills: an FMRI study with expert dancers. Cereb Cortex, 15(8), pp. 1243–1249. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhi007.

Chapters (10)

  1. Calvo Merino, B. (2014). Planificación y control de la acción. Neurociencia Cognitiva (pp. 135–154). Madrid: Sanz y Torres. ISBN 978-84-15550-45-7.
  2. (2013). Neural Mechanisms for Action Observation. In People Watching: Social, Perceptual, and Neurophysiological Studies of Body Perception ISBN 978-0-19-997927-1.
  3. Calvo-Merino, B. (2010). Neural mechanism of seeing dance. In Bläsing, B., Puttke, M., Puttke-Voss, M. and Schack, T. (Eds.), The Neurocognition of Dance Psychology Press. ISBN 978-1-84872-024-4.
  4. Calvo Merino, B. (2010). Mirrors in the brain as connection to the world. In Woitas, M. and Hartmann, A. (Eds.), The Internal and External Motor Activity of Stravinsky’s Stage Works GFT Foundation. ISBN 978-3-940388-10-0.
  5. Calvo Merino, B. and Haggard, P. (2010). Neuroaesthetic of performing arts. In Bacci, F. and Melcher, D. (Eds.), Art and the Senses Oxford Univ Press. ISBN 978-0-19-923060-0.
  6. Calvo Merino, B. (2007). Procesos cognitivos de la acción. In Ríos, M., Cabestrero, R. and Maestú, F. (Eds.), Neuroimagen. Técnicas y procesos cognitivos Elsevier España. ISBN 978-84-458-1776-6.
  7. Alvarez-Linera, J., Rios Lago, M., Hernandez Tamanes, J.A., Bargallo Alabart, N. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2007). Resonancia magnética I: Resonacia Magnetica Funcional. In Ríos, M., Cabestrero, R. and Maestú, F. (Eds.), Neuroimagen. Técnicas y procesos cognitivos Elsevier España. ISBN 978-84-458-1776-6.
  8. Alvarez-Linera, J., Rios Lago, M. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2006). Resonancia magnética funcional y neuropsicología. Avances en neuropsicología clínica Fundación MAFRE. ISBN 978-84-9844-028-7.
  9. Calvo-Merino, B., Glaser, D.E., Grèzes, J., Passingham, R.E. and Haggard, P. (2005). Seeing and doing: the influence of expertise using dancers. In Fenger, J. and Birringer, J. (Eds.), Tanz im Kopf. Dance and Cognition 15 Jahrbuch Tanzforschung. ISBN 978-3-8258-8712-4.
  10. Calvo Merino, B. (2005). Acción: Procesos cognitivos. Neurociencia Cognitiva Madrid: UNED.

Conference papers and proceedings (16)

  1. Joly-Mascheroni, R.M., Forster, B., Valsera, C., Gomara, A., Crailsheim, D., Llorente, M. … Calvo-Merino, B. (2018). Beyond Humans: Contagious Yawning in Primates Elicited by a Non-Human Agent, (An Android).
  2. Joly-Mascheroni, R.M., Forster, B., Llorente, M. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2016). Beyond humans: contagious yawning in primates elicited by the visual perception of a non-human agent - an android.
  3. Sel, A., Calvo-Merino, B. and Forster, B. (2013). Somatosensory correlates of facial emotion perception: Evidence from ERPS. 20th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive-Neuroscience-Society 13-16 April, San Francisco, CA.
  4. Gaigg, S.B., Bowler, D.M., Ecker, C., Calvo-Merino, B. and Murphy, D.G. (2010). fMRI Correlates of Relational Memory Difficulties in Autism Spectrum Disorder. IMFAR - International Meeting for Autism Research Philadelphia.
  5. Calvo Merino, B. and Haggard, P. (2010). Neural correlates of visual perception and aesthetic preferences: Expertise effects in judgements about dance moves. Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Conference San Francisco, USA.
  6. Calvo Merino, B. (2009). Neural signatures of aesthetic perception of dance. World Dance Alliance Summit Proceedings Brisbane, Australia.
  7. Ehrenberg, S., Calvo Merino, B. and Haggard, P. (2007). Perception of Dance Movement Patterns: Self-recognition with expert ballet dancers. 17th Annual International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS) Canberra, Australia.
  8. Calvo Merino, B., Urgesi, C., Haggard, P. and Aglioti, S. (2006). Configural and local processing of human body in visual and motor areas. Society for Neuroscience Atlanta, USA.
  9. Calvo-Merino, B., Grezes, J., Glaser, D.E., Passingham, R.E.R. and Haggard, P. (2005). The influence of visual and motor familiarity during action observation: An fMRI study using expertise.
  10. Calvo Merino, B., Grèzes, J., Glaser, D.E., Passingham, R.E. and Haggard, P. (2005). The influence of visual and motor familiarity during action observation. Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Conference New York, USA.
  11. Calvo Merino, B., Glaser, D.E., Grèzes, J., Passingham, R.E. and Haggard, P. (2005). Seeing and doing: visual and motor familiarity in action observation. 9th European Congress of Psychology -ESCOP Granada, Spain.
  12. Calvo Merino, B., Grèzes, J., Glaser, D.E., Passingham, R.E. and Haggard, P. (2003). Seeing what you can and can't do: action observation by experts studied with fmri. Society for Neuroscience New Orleans, USA.
  13. Glaser, D.E., Calvo Merino, B., Grèzes, J., Passingham, R.E. and Haggard, P. (2003). Functional imaging of motor experience and expertise during action observation. Society for Neuroscience New Orleans, USA.
  14. Muñoz-Céspedes, J.M., Calvo Merino, B., Rios Lago, M., García Peña, M. and Sánchez Cabeza, A. (2002). Estructura factorial de la escala ‘Indice de Competencia del Paciente’ [Factorial structure of the scale ‘Index of Patience Competence’]. II Congreso de la Sociedad Espagnola de Neuroreahabilitacion Barcelona, Spain.
  15. Calvo Merino, B., Blázquez Alisente, J.L., Lapedriza, N. and Muñoz Céspedes, J.M. (2002). Sindrome de Ballint: a propósito de un caso [Balint syndrom: a single case study]. II Congreso de la Sociedad Espagnola de Neuroreahabilitacion Barcelona, Spain.
  16. Calvo Merino, B., Forster, B., Tziraki, M., Jones, A. and Gillmeister, H. Somatotopic embodiment of aesthetic processing of human body postures. XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI) Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Journal articles (11)

  1. Williams, D.M., Grainger, C., Christensen, J.F., Calvo-Merino, B. and Gaigg, S.B. (2018). Interoceptive impairments do not lie at the heart of autism or alexithymia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 127(6), pp. 612–622. doi:10.1037/abn0000370.
  2. (2015). Episodic Recollection Difficulties in ASD Result from Atypical Relational Encoding: Behavioral and Neural Evidence. Autism Research, 8(3), pp. 317–327. doi:10.1002/aur.1448.
  3. Jola, C., Pollick, F.E. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2014). "Some like it hot": spectators who score high on the personality trait openness enjoy the excitement of hearing dancers breathing without music. Front Hum Neurosci, 8, p. 718. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00718.
  4. (2014). Recognition of dance-like actions: Memory for static posture or dynamic movement? Memory and Cognition, 42(5), pp. 755–767. doi:10.3758/s13421-014-0395-0.
  5. Sel, A. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2013). [Neuroarchitecture of musical emotions]. Rev Neurol, 56(5), pp. 289–297.
  6. Christensen, J.F. and Calvo-Merino, B. (2013). Dance as a Subject for Empirical Aesthetics. PSYCHOLOGY OF AESTHETICS CREATIVITY AND THE ARTS, 7(1), pp. 76–88. doi:10.1037/a0031827.
  7. Calvo-Merino, B., Jones, A., Gillmeister, H., Tziraki, M. and Forster, B. (2012). The influence of experience on aesthetic processing: insight from ballet dancers watching dance postures. COGNITIVE PROCESSING, 13.
  8. Bläsing, B., Calvo-Merino, B., Cross, E.S., Jola, C., Honisch, J. and Stevens, C.J. (2012). Neurocognitive control in dance perception and performance. Acta Psychol (Amst), 139(2), pp. 300–308. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2011.12.005.
  9. Calvo Merino, B., May, J., deLahunta, S., McGregor, W., Cusack, R., Owen, A. … Barnard, P. (2011). Points in mental space: an interdisciplinary study of imagery in movement creation. Dance Research Electronic, 29(2), pp. 404–430. doi:10.3366/drs.2011.0026.

    [publisher’s website]

  10. (2006). Seeing or Doing? Influence of Visual and Motor Familiarity in Action Observation (DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2006.07.065). Current Biology, 16(22), p. 2277. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.10.065.
  11. Calvo-Merino, B. and Haggard, P. (2004). [Transcranial magnetic stimulation. Applications in cognitive neuroscience]. Rev Neurol, 38(4), pp. 374–380.


PS3001 Project in Psychology
PS2002 Cognitive Psychology I
PS2004 Biological Psychology