Metacognition & Executive Functions
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+44 20 7679 1121
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).
Principal Research Fellows
- 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
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.
- Giedrė Čepukaitytė
I am one of the members of the Digital Hub of the Early Detection of Neurodegenerative Diseases (EDoN) initiative. My research topics are the use of digital technologies for the early detection of dementia as well as, short and long-term memory in ageing and neurodegeneration. The current focus of my role is to identify digital technologies that would enable early pre-clinical detection of different types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. For more information on the work of EDoN, please visit https://edon-initiative.org.
- 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.
- Ava Scott
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.
- Pippa Chapman
I am a Research Assistant with an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at the Institute of Neurology. My research interests include neurodegenerative diseases, neurophysiology, cognition and the impact of exercise on brain health. I am working on the CICERO study aiming to phenotype and treat patients with Long Covid. This project is supervised by Dr Dennis Chan.
- Gina Gilpin
I am a Research Assistant with an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from UCL. I am working on the CICERO study, spearheaded by Dr Dennis Chan, which aims to phenotype and treat cognitive impairment in long Covid.