Principal Investigator

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Davinia Fernández-Espejo, PhD

I was born in Avilés, Spain. I have a BSc in Speech Therapy and a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, both from the University of Oviedo  (Spain). In 2008 I completed my MSc in Neurosciences at the University of Barcelona (Spain). I obtained my PhD in the neural bases of disorders of consciousness at the University of Barcelona in 2010, under the supervision Dr. Carme Junqué, and after completing two research internships in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge.

After my PhD, I joined the University of Western Ontario (Canada) as a post-doctoral fellow, and subsequently a research scientist, at Prof. Adrian Owen’s lab in the Brain and Mind Institute.

In September 2015, I joined the University of Birmingham (UK) as a Lecturer in Psychology. In 2018 I was promoted to Senior Lecturer.
Google Scholar profile 

Research Associates

Melanie Lafanechere, MSc

I completed a BSc in Psychology at Aston University where I did a research placement in Psychopathy and Conduct Disorder at the University of New South Wales and Neuroscience Research Australia. During this time, I developed an interest in Neuroscience research as well as a passion for travelling. I subsequently completed an MSc in Brain Imaging and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Birmingham where I investigated the neural correlates of Conduct Disorder and Callous-Unemotional traits. After this I moved to Canada and backpacked through Central America. I am now a research assistant for Dr. Davinia Fernández-Espejo, investigating the effects of tDCS in healthy volunteers during MRI scanning. The objective of this research is to inform interventions aimed at increasing external responsiveness in patients with a prolonged Disorder of Consciousness.


PhD Students

Davide Aloi, MSc

I was born in Florence, Italy. I completed a BSc in Psychology of Cognitive Processes at the University of Florence in 2016 and a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Padua, Italy in 2018. In my bachelor’s degree, I spent a semester at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, where I studied Physiological Psychology. During the second year of my master’s degree, I worked for the Research Centre for Mind, Brain and Behaviour in Granada, Spain, where I contributed to an ongoing research on ERP and dyslexia. There, I also carried out my own project on EEG resting-state functional networks and graph-analysis, with the specific aim of differentiating proficient readers from poor readers by means of graph-derived metrics. As of recently, I have obtained a PhD position at the Centre for Human Brain Health, School of Psychology, supervised by Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo and co-supervised by Dr Damian Cruse. The PhD project is about exploring the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation associated with passive mobilisation on the dynamics of the motor systems as well as on motor responsiveness. @davide_aloi93

Sara Calzolari, MSc

I did my BSc in Cognitive Psychology and Psychobiology, and MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Padova, Italy. I joined the Erasmus+Traineeship program and spent 6 months working in Dr Damian Cruse’s lab. There, I carried on a project aimed at looking for EEG markers of semantic embodiment to be used as prognostic tool for acute comatose patients, and assisted in a work on the EEG signal improvement for the motor imagery paradigm. I now obtained a BBSRC MIBTP PhD studentship, supervised by Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo and Dr Andrew Bagshaw in the Fall 2018. As PhD student, I intend to investigate the functional architecture of consciousness by means of fMRI and tDCS, looking at the anticorrelated pattern of DMN and attentional network during internal and external awareness processes.​


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Sean Coulborn, MSc

After completing my BSc in Psychology at the University of York I coordinated a research team in rural Uganda and subsequently undertook a Research Grants role at the University of Oxford in the Nuffield Department of Population Health and Surgical Sciences. Having an interest in consciousness research since my undergraduate degree, and a desire to peruse a career in academia, I embarked on a MSc in Brain Imaging and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Birmingham working in Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo’s lab. Upon securing MRC funding I am now undertaking my PhD investigating the neural correlates of consciousness with the use of brain imaging and brain stimulation techniques under Davinia’s supervision.​


MSc and MRes Students

Claudia Evison, BSc

I am currently studying MRes Clinical Psychology at the University of Birmingham. Prior to this, I studied BSc Psychology at Cardiff University during which I also undertook a placement year working as an Assistant Psychologist in a mental health facility in the NHS. My undergraduate dissertation was supervised by Professor Lawrence Wilkinson and investigated the effects of manipulating components of the complement system and the impact this had on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. I also took part in a research internship at Cardiff University in which I conducted a pilot study that investigated whether involuntary eye movements could be used as an objective marker for hallucinations. Under the supervision of Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo I will now be investigating the effects of concussions on cognitive functioning in female athletes.

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Gugan Sangha, BSc

I have completed a BSc in Psychology here at the University of Birmingham where I had conducted a study on the impact of the neurodegenerative disease, Neimann Pick Type C, on gait and balance functioning during early onset. Throughout this time I had also assisted Dr Andrew Olson with collecting gait and balance measures of patients with various neurodegenerative diseases, at a local hospital. Currently I am studying Brain Imaging and Cognitive Neuroscience MSc at the University of Birmingham where I will be working under the supervision of Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo. I will be investigating the structural effects of concussion and sub concussive hits on the brain in female athletes of high contact sport.


Patrick Cullen, MSc
Alice Dichfield, MD
Luke Andrews, MSc,
Harvey Walsh, MSc,
Roya Jalali - PhD
Chris Taylor - BSc
Amy Hodgkinson - BSc
Jake Leonard - BSc
Jenna Ridley - BSc
Rebecca Crook - BSc
Paige Williams - BSc
Penny Tilsley - MSc by research
Lynette Looi - MSc
Clara Stafford - MSc
Claire Thirkettle - BSc
Mette Sieg - BSc
Megan Webb - BSc
Ashton Bryan - BSc
Stevi Fisher-Norton - BSc
Lara McHale - BSc
Leanne Calviello - MSc 
Tanya Sinha - BMedSci
Kathleen Lyons - MSc 
Nick Lant - BSc and MD (SROP)
Finola D'Souza - BSc
Natalie Osborne -  MSc