Principal Investigator

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.​


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.

Patrick Cullen, BSc

I am a recent graduate from De Montfort University, Leicester, where I completed my BSc Psychology degree. During my final year, under the supervision of Dr Valter Prpic, I assessed the effects of VPT (visual perspective taking) upon the SNARC (spatial-numerical association of response codes) effect, a recognised domain within Cognitive Psychology assessing how numbers are perceived relative to one’s spatial representation. However, despite the emphasis on areas of Cognitive Psychology, my theoretical approach was guided by contemporary neuroscientific research regarding the phenomenon. I have recently started at the University of Birmingham studying MSc Brain Imaging and Cognitive Neuroscience where I will be working under the supervision of Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo looking at the effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS).

Alice Ditchfield, MD/BSc student
Luke Andrews, BSc

After finishing, and thoroughly enjoying my BSc in Psychology at the University of Birmingham, I enrolled on the MSc Brain Imaging and Cognitive Neuroscience program to develop my interest in Neuroscience. During my undergraduate degree I took a significant interest in motor disorders and the neural bases of motor control. I took part in an NHS placement, shadowing a Parkinson's disease consultant to supplement my interests and gain an insight into the clinical practices. Under Davinia's supervision, I will be investigating the relationship between the structural architecture of the brain and individual responses to non-invasive brain stimulation

Harvey Walsh, MSc

I am currently a MSc Brain Imaging and Cognitive Neuroscience student at the University of Birmingham. I also completed my BSc in Biomedical Science at this University, where I specialised in neuropharmacology. For my final year project I worked under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Lee in the Memory Persistence lab investigating reconsolidation as a target for erasing addiction memory. I am now under the supervision of Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo, where I will be investigating structural markers that may predict individual differences in responsiveness to tDCS to try and restore motor function in patients in a vegetative state. In my free time I train for triathlons, having completed my first Ironman last year.


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

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