IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Centre for Educational Neuroscience

Promoting applications of cognitive neuroscience within educational research and build professional partnerships to translate findings into new practice.

Director: Professor Michael Thomas (Birkbeck)

Deputy Directors: Professor Andy Tolmie (IOE) and Professor Mairead MacSweeney (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience)

The Centre for Educational Neuroscience (CEN) was formed in 2008. It is a university-led research centre, combining the expertise of researchers in child development, neuroscience, and education at two world-leading universities, Birkbeck and UCL.

About us 


Our goal is to develop this emerging discipline, using our combined strength in neuroscience, child development, psychology and education research. We aim to establish a dialogue between researchers and educationalists to further translations of research into practise, in order to improve education and well-being across the lifespan.


Director of Centre

  • Professor Michael Thomas, Birkbeck, University of London

Deputy Directors

IOE Members

Study with us


Our centre has established an Educational Neuroscience MA/MSc, with an intake of psychology graduates and education professionals, which feeds into an ESRC-accredited doctoral training pathway.

Our activities


Educational neuroscience aims to coordinate evidence from behavioural and neuroimaging studies to obtain a more complete understanding of learning that can be used to specify the pedagogical approaches that will support it most effectively. CEN research in literacy, number development, science learning and socio-emotional development illustrates the potential of the field to explain both typical and atypical learning in a coherent fashion and to identify novel pedagogical strategies that fully address individual variation in capability.

Our management team provides strategic direction and coordinates individual research projects into a unified programme.

See also:


We offer weekly seminars promoting exchange between researchers in different areas and at different stages of their career, and help foster the development of connections to other research centres within the UK and internationally.