Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Metacognition & Executive Functions

Metacognition and Executive Functions group investigates the processes that supervise the operation of other cognitive processes and which are primarily located in the frontal lobes of the brain. The group is jointly led by Prof Paul Burgess, Dr Sam Gilbert and Emeritus Prof Tim Shallice.

Paul Burgess

Group Leader



+44 20 7679 1139

Paul Burgess

Sam Gilbert

Group Leader



+44 20 7679 1121

Sam Gilbert

Tim Shallice

Group Leader



Tim Shallice

Metacognition & Executive Functions Research

The group carries out research on executive functions, the processes that supervise the operation of other cognitive processes and which are primarily located in the frontal lobes of the brain. We use a variety of cognitive neuroscience methods, principally functional imaging (PET, fMRI), human neuropsychology (group lesion studies, single case investigations), computational modelling, human experimental psychological investigations, developmental studies (i.e. studies of how cognition changes as the brain develops) and studies of ageing. The 4 main strands of research being carried out by the group focus on: the roles played by different regions of the frontal lobes in human cognition (particularly brain area 10); the processes controlling how information is stored and retrieved from memory; planning, multitasking, and remembering delayed intentions (prospective memory); the clinical applications of our work (e.g. cognitive neurorehabilitation, psychological treatments, development of assessment tools).

Group Members

Principal Research Fellows

 Dennis Chan

Dennis Chan

My primary area of interest is the detection of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in its earliest stages. With UCL colleagues, I have pioneered the application of novel spatial tests of entorhinal cortex (EC) and hippocampal function in pre-dementia AD. With Neil Burgess (ICN), we showed that a VR navigation task is more sensitive and specific for early AD than current cognitive tests, and we are now testing asymptomatic people at risk of AD. This work is based on studies of EC grid cells and hippocampal place cells, and with John O’Keefe (UCL Sainsbury Wellcome Centre) these cells are being studied in transgenic AD models. I am one of the leads for the EDoN initiative (https://edon-initiative.org), using wearable tech and AI to deliver digital tools for detecting neurodegenerative disorders years before symptom onset. As a consultant neurologist I run a memory clinic in mid-Sussex, focusing on mild cognitive impairment and cognitive Covid.

Post-Doctoral Research Fellows

 Annika Boldt

Annika Bold

I am interested in how the human brain is capable of forming metacognitive judgements. Metacognition is usually defined as thinking about one’s own thoughts and actions. This important and ubiquitous ability serves to optimise behaviour in countless situations, ensuring that we have control over what we are doing. If we lose control, metacognitive warning signals ensure the additional allocation of attentional resources.

See more about me

PhD Students 

James Crum

James Crum

My research focuses on using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure brain activity and model functional events occurring in ecological settings in which people engage in real-world tasks. General research interests include typical and atypical functional specialization and integration within the prefrontal cortex, autism spectrum disorders, prospection, emotional regulation, and executive functions such as reasoning, strategy generation, and monitoring.

Chhavi Sachdeva


My research lies within the Metacognition and Executive Functions research group at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. I specifically focus on cognitive offloading and how metacognition influences intention offloading behaviour. I am also interested in how interventions or feedback might change metacognitive judgments, and how this change might influence offloading bias.

Fatemeh Simeen Tabassi Mofrad

Simeen Tabassi Mofrad

My research ranges from cognitive control of language and metacognition to genetics of cognitive neuroscience, mostly using fMRI. Currently I am investigating Dunning Kruger effect and overconfidence in different domains. This PhD program is funded by UCL Overseas Research Scholarship.

Ava Scott

Ava Scott Looking At The Camera


Ava Scott is a Ph.D. candidate in the Ecological Study of the Brain DTP.  Her current research interests focus on how people partner with technology to augment, extend, and distribute their cognition in the real world. For example, humans use calendar apps and reminders to offload prospective memory, while using photographs, films and notes to support retrospective memory. Key research questions surround the long-term cognitive implications of offloading, and the opportunity to scaffold design principles to address any risks of offloading.