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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 

Postdoctoral Fellows and Research staff

Graduate Students
Yidian Gao, PhD

My name is Yidian Gao, and I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Human Brain Health, University of Birmingham. My research focuses on investigating the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying a wide range of human behaviours, using large-scale structural and functional MRI datasets. I have actively participated in a collaborative mega-analysis that explores the structural correlates of conduct disorder and conduct problems in youths. Currently, I am working on the mTBI-PREDICT project with Dr. Davinia Fernandez-Espejo. The overarching aim of this project is to identify reliable, reproducible and clinically practical biomarkers that can accurately predict the long-term health outcomes of individuals following a head injury. Google scholar profile

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Aliza Finch, MSc

I completed my BSc in Psychology with Neuropsychology in 2020, my dissertation focused on analysing electrophysiological changes in bilinguals across lifespan using EEG and ERP. Following this, I completed my master’s degree in Principles of Clinical Neuropsychology, with my research focus on the somatotopic changes to the ipsilateral somatosensory cortex following nerve suture, This project utilised fMRI techniques. Both of my degrees were completed at Bangor University in North Wales. Currently I am working as a research assistant in Birmingham University, supporting MRI and MEG for the mTBI-PREDICT project with Dr Davinia Fernandez-Espejo. 

PhD Students

Graduate Students
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Gugan Sangha, MSc

 completed my BSc in Psychology, and MSc in Brain Imaging and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Birmingham. I worked for the neuroimaging company, IXICO, and spent a year there working with MRI and PET data looking at the effectiveness of new brain segmentation algorithms as well as observing structural changes from clinical populations such as Alzheimer’s patients. Recently, I obtained a PhD studentship, supervised by Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo and Dr Damian Cruse in January 2023. This PhD project is about exploring the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation in patients with Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness to identify a therapeutic intervention as well as developing a predictive model to help capture which structural and functional features of the brain make an individual more likely to respond to transcranial direct current stimulation.

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.​


Anny Maza, MSc

I completed my BSc in Biomedical Engineering at Universitat Politècnica de València in 2017 and earned the related MSc at the same institution in the following year. I am specialised in Bioelectronics and Medical Technology. My interest in the study of biomedical signals related to brain damage started during my master’s thesis work, which I conducted in the Neurorrehabilitation and Brain Research Group at Universitat Politècnica de València. Currently, I am pursuing my PhD studies under the supervision of Dr. Roberto Llorens and Prof. Valery Naranjo in the same institution. As PhD student, my research focuses on the analysis of brain activity during motor and emotion-related tasks on individuals with disorders of consciousness using non-invasive techniques such as EEG and fNIRS

Yolanda Balboa Bandeira, MSc

I completed a BSc (Hons) in Psychology at the University of the Basque Country (Spain) (2012-2016), where, during the last year, I collaborated in a research project about acquired brain injury and speech impairment. After that I completed a master’s degree in Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Deusto (2017-2018) (Spain).  Since then, I am doing my PhD at the same university in the Neuropsychology of Severe Medical Conditions research team, with a pre-doctoral grant for University Teacher Training (FPU, University of Deusto). My thesis project focuses on non-invasive brain stimulation techniques and their effectiveness and applicability in the acquisition of a second or foreign language.
I am currently doing my research internship at the University of Birmingham, under the supervision of Dr. Davinia Fernandez-Espejo..​

MSc Students

Graduate Students
Rachel Duckham, BSc


Daniella Stock - BSc project
Elizabeth Cave - BSc project
Joshua Jacob - BSc project
Dawid Marcinek - BSc project
Yumeng Ma - MSc project
Sean Coulborn - PhD
Melanie Lafanechere - Research associate
Claudia Evison - MRes Clinical Psychology
Gugan Sangha - MSc
Patrick Cullen - MSc 

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