UCL Division of Biosciences


Sensory processing and brain development in humans

Brain Imaging
  • Developmental human neurophysiology
  • Maturation of sensory systems in premature infants (focus on somatosensation and pain)
  • Early formation of cortical circuits
  • Non-invasive brain monitoring: EEG, MRI, NIRS and simultaneous EEG-fMRI


We use non-invasive techniques such as EEG, fMRI and NIRS to study normal and pathological spontaneous and sensory driven perinatal brain maturation and consequences of preterm birth and hospitalisation. The neonatal brain should not be regarded as an incomplete version of the adult brain, but as something different altogether. Indeed, we have shown for example that brain responses to a painful stimulus in infancy are ever-changing and present unique characteristics compared which are absent in adults, pointing at fundamentally different information processing.

We also investigate spontaneous electroencephalographic patterns, which are thought to be fundamental for healthy brain growth and development and ways to promote their occurrence. For example, we have shown the importance of subcortically initiated movements and muscle contractions during different vigilance phases in the generation and maintenance of these key activity patterns.

Collaborators in this area


Dr Meek, consultant neonatologist, UCLH

Dr Arichi, consultant paediatric neurologist, St Thomas’ Hospital

Dr Pressler, consultant clinical neurophysiologist, Great Ormond Street Hospital


Dr Whitehead, UCL, Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology

Prof Pillai-Riddell, York University, Canada

Dr Cooper, UCL, Medical Physics and Bioengineering

Prof Burdet, Imperial College London

Prof Olhede, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

Prof Khazipov, Kazan Federal University, Russia

Prof Papadelis, TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, Texas, US


Brain Product, EEG system manufacturer, Germany