Dr Alex Sel

Senior Lecturer
Department of Psychology
Dr Alex Sel



I completed my BSc (First Class hons) in Psychology and my PhD (Distinction Cum Laude) in electrophysiology at the University Complutense of Madrid, Spain. I then completed a 2-year postdoctoral position at Royal Holloway University of London where I investigated the neural dynamics underpinning embodiment of emotion and self-processing. In 2015 I moved to the University of Oxford where I worked for 4 years on my personal research grant investigating the brain mechanisms underlying action control. I joined the Department of Psychology, University of Essex in June 2019 The overarching aim of my research is to understand how functional and structural brain networks support human behaviour. I am particularly interested in how different neural networks interact and communicate with one another and how the communication dynamics in these neural networks change over the life-span, particularly during ageing. To perform my research, I employ a variety of techniques including high-density electrophysiological recording techniques (EEG/ERPs), functional and structural brain imaging (f-MRI), interventional techniques (TMS/tES) and behavioural measures as indexes of cognitive processes.


University of Essex

  • Lecturer, Psychology, University of Essex (3/6/2019 - present)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Understanding brain networks underpinning higher order cognitive functions in the human brain

Key words: Brain stimulation
Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

My research career in the UK

Keynote presentation, The research career and other scientific jobs in the UK. Areces Foundation. Madrid, Spain, Areces Foundation, Madrid, Spain, 17/11/2019

Invited talk: Advanced Neurostimulation Techniques: Paired-pulse TMS (ppTMS) & Corticocortical Paired Associative Stimulation (ccPAS)

Invited presentation, Donders Toolkit, Donders Institute, Donders Toolkit, 18/9/2018

Cardiac interoceptive inference: evidence from heart-beat evoked brain potentials

Invited presentation, Social Brain and Behavioural Club. Department of Experimental Psychology. University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, 8/11/2017

Changing and adapting brain mechanisms of self-control. Capstone PSSC conference. Florida State University, Tallahassee, US

Invited presentation, Capstone PSSC conference. Florida State University, Tallahassee, US, Tallahassee, United States, 26/7/2017

Heartfelt Self: Cardio-visual stimulation affects self-face recognition and interoceptive cortical processing

Invited presentation, Social and Affective Neuroscience Confrerence, 28/4/2016

The Embodied Mind: brain correlates of Emotion and the Self

Invited presentation, Departmental talk. Department of Psychology, City University London,UK, 26/10/2015

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • The Social Brain (PS106)

  • Introduction to Personal Development and Employability (PS117)

  • Advanced employability skills and career progression (PS492)

  • Body, Senses and Existence (PS502)

  • Ageing: Mind, Brain, and Behaviour (PS503)

  • Special Topics in Individual Differences and Developmental Psychology (PS938)

  • Research Experience (PS944)

  • Theory and Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology (PS949)

  • MSc Psychology Research Project (PS900)

Previous supervision

Themis Nikolas Efthimiou
Themis Nikolas Efthimiou
Thesis title: A Spark of Emotion: The Impact of Electrical Facial Muscle Activation on Emotional State and Affective Processing
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 25/1/2024
Denise Wallace
Denise Wallace
Thesis title: An Investigation Into the Impact of Cumulative Life Stress and Neuromodulation on Adults’ Cognitive Function and Subjective Well-Being.
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 20/12/2023


Journal articles (22)

Tarasi, L., Turrini, S., Sel, A., Avenanti, A. and Romei, V., (2024). Cortico-cortical paired-associative stimulation to investigate the plasticity of cortico-cortical visual networks in humans. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 56, 101359-101359

Fouragnan, EF., Hosking, B., Cheung, Y., Prakash, B., Rushworth, M. and Sel, A., (2024). Timing along the cardiac cycle modulates neural signals of reward-based learning.. Nature Communications. 15 (1), 2976-

Trajkovic, J., Romei, V., Rushworth, MFS. and Sel, A., (2023). Changing connectivity between premotor and motor cortex changes inter-areal communication in the human brain.. Progress in Neurobiology. 228, 102487-102487

Wallace, D., Cooper, NR., Sel, A. and Russo, R., (2023). The Social Readjustment Rating Scale: updated and modernised. PLoS One. 18 (12), e0295943-e0295943

Wallace, D., Cooper, NR., Sel, A. and Russo, R., (2023). Do non-traumatic stressful life events and ageing negatively impact working memory performance and do they interact to further impair working memory performance?. PLoS One. 18 (11), e0290635-e0290635

Chiappini, E., Sel, A., Hibbard, P., Avenanti, A. and Romei, V., (2022). Increasing interhemispheric connectivity between human visual motion areas uncovers asymmetric sensitivity to horizontal motion. Current Biology. 32 (18), 4064-4070.e3

Wittmann, MK., Trudel, N., Trier, HA., Klein-Flügge, MC., Sel, A., Verhagen, L. and Rushworth, MFS., (2021). Causal manipulation of self-other-mergence in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. Neuron. 109 (14), 2353-2361.e11

Sel, A., Verhagen, L., Angerer, K., David, R., Klein-Flügge, MC. and Rushworth, MFS., (2021). Increasing and decreasing interregional brain coupling increases and decreases oscillatory activity in the human brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 118 (37), e2100652118-

Sel, A., Calvo-Merino, B., Tsakiris, M. and Forster, B., (2020). The somatotopy of observed emotions. Cortex. 129, 11-22

Sel, A., Sui, J., Sheppard, J. and Humphreys, G., (2019). Self-Association and Attentional Processing Regarding Perceptually Salient Items. Review of Philosophy and Psychology. 10 (4), 735-746

Gentsch, A., Sel, A., Marshall, AC. and Schütz-Bosbach, S., (2019). Affective interoceptive inference: Evidence from heart-beat evoked brain potentials.. Human Brain Mapping. 40 (1), 20-33

Sel, A., Azevedo, RT. and Tsakiris, M., (2017). Heartfelt Self: Cardio-Visual Integration Affects Self-Face Recognition and Interoceptive Cortical Processing.. Cerebral Cortex. 27 (11), 5144-5155

Sel, A., Harding, R. and Tsakiris, M., (2016). Electrophysiological correlates of self-specific prediction errors in the human brain.. NeuroImage. 125, 13-24

Sel, A., Calvo-Merino, B., Tuettenberg, S. and Forster, B., (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), 1316-1322

Sel, A., (2014). Predictive codes of interoception, emotion, and the self.. Frontiers in Psychology. 5 (MAR), 189-

Sel, A., Forster, B. and Calvo-Merino, B., (2014). The emotional homunculus: ERP evidence for independent somatosensory responses during facial emotional processing.. The Journal of Neuroscience. 34 (9), 3263-3267

Sel, A. and Calvo-Merino, B., (2013). Neuroarquitectura de la emoción musical [Neuroarchitecture of musical emotions].. Revista de Neurologia. 56 (5), 289-297

Jiménez-Ortega, L., Martín-Loeches, M., Casado, P., Sel, A., Fondevila, S., de Tejada, PH., Schacht, A. and Sommer, W., (2012). How the emotional content of discourse affects language comprehension.. PLoS One. 7 (3), e33718-e33718

Fondevila, S., Martín-Loeches, M., Jiménez-Ortega, L., Casado, P., Sel, A., Fernández-Hernández, A. and Sommer, W., (2012). The sacred and the absurd--an electrophysiological study of counterintuitive ideas (at sentence level).. Social Neuroscience. 7 (5), 445-457

Schacht, A., Martín-Loeches, M., Casado, P., Abdel Rahman, R., Sel, A. and Sommer, W., (2010). How Is Sentence Processing Affected by External Semantic and Syntactic Information? Evidence from Event-Related Potentials. PLoS ONE. 5 (3), e9742-e9742

Martín-Loeches, M., Sel, A., Casado, P., Jiménez, L. and Castellanos, L., (2009). Encouraging expressions affect the brain and alter visual attention.. PLoS One. 4 (6), e5920-e5920

Martín Loeches, M., Casado Martínez, P. and Sel, A., (2008). La evolución del cerebro en el género Homo: la neurobiología que nos hace diferentes [The evolution of the brain in the genus Homo: the neurobiology that makes us different]. Revista de Neurologia. 46 (12), 731-741

Books (1)

Sel, A., Música, Emociones y Lenguaje: Una vision desde el cerebro. [Music, Emotion and Language: A view from the brain]. Saarbrücken, EAE

Book chapters (2)

Sel, A. and Shepherd, J., Inhibitory control and self-control

Vibell, J., Gillmeister, H., Sel, A., Haggarty, CJ., Van Velzen, J. and Forster, B., (2023). Electroencephalography of Touch. In: Neuromethods. Springer US. 431- 449. 9781071630679

Reports and Papers (1)

Sel, A., Verhagen, L., Angerer, K., David, R., Klein-Flügge, M. and Rushworth, M., (2020). Entraining corticocortical plasticity changes oscillatory activity in action control and inhibition

Grants and funding


Measuring the impact of ageing on the physiological mechanisms of action control

Academy of Medical Sciences

Developing novel interventions to ameliorate age-related movement decline

UOE Participatory Research Fund

+44 (0) 1206 873817


4.719, Colchester Campus