Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Brain Plasticity

We study the role of behaviour in shaping brain plasticity.

 Can input loss facilitate input-driven plasticity? 

We are interested in understanding the potential link between sensory deprivation (input loss) and adaptive behaviour. For example, we wish to determine whether amputees and individuals who were born without a hand can develop “super powers” due to the neural processes triggered by input loss. We aim to understand how these processes can facilitate the strong behavioural pressure to pick up new skills to cope with their disability. For example, we are interested in how input loss can impact perception in remaining body-parts, such as the intact hand in amputees. We also use pharmacological interventions to determine whether we can see functional benefits of deprivation (e.g. enhancements of sensory learning) after short term input loss with anaesthetics.

Example papers: Makin et al., 2013, eLifeDempsey-Jones et al., 2019, JEP:General

How do altered patterns of motor behaviour affect brain organisation?

Our world is designed for bimanuals. Yet, individuals with a missing hand develop compensatory strategies with their body, allowing them to be fully functional.  We use a range of approaches to characterise such compensatory behavioural strategies to their full complexity. We use neuroimaging and brain stimulation techniques to determine how such altered behaviour shapes brain reorganisation.

Example papers:  Hahamy et al., 2015, eLifeHahamy et al., 2017, Curr Biol.; Dempsey-Jones et al., 2019, Cell Reports