Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Research Approaches

Our research makes use of three complementary approaches: studying behaviour, atypical brain functions and brain imaging.


Most research carried out at the ICN involves measurement and analysis of human behaviour. This reveals information about our research participants’ mental processes, in health and disease, and at different stages of the lifespan. Behavioural experiments at the ICN use a wide variety of approaches such as response time analysis, eye tracking, and virtual reality. We analyse the data from these experiments with various statistical methods, along with advanced computational modelling approaches.

Brain imaging

Alongside behavioural experiments, we study participants’ brain activity using techniques such as fMRI, ERP, MEG, and fNIRS. These techniques allow us to measure brain activity safely and non-invasively, helping us to understand the neural events underpinning our mental lives.

Atypical brain function

A third approach is to investigate how individuals’ behaviour and underlying neural activity is affected by atypical brain function associated with acquired brain injury, neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions such as autism, depression, and schizophrenia, and pharmacological interventions. We also use techniques such as TMS, which can safely cause a temporary disruption to brain activity in healthy volunteers. By studying these various conditions, we can learn more about the ways that brain activity relates to mental processes, and also develop therapies and interventions that can help to improve cognitive function.

For full details of the methods we use, please see the individual research group pages.