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Prof. Mark Stokes

Stokes lab image

Our everyday view of the world is necessarily biased: we focus our attention on information that is most relevant to our current goals and ignore behaviourally irrelevant information. Without such bias, we would be lost in a world of information overload, unable to accomplish even the simplest tasks.

Research in the Attention Group explores how the brain controls these biases to streamline processing for adaptive behaviour. In our experiments, we measure and disrupt human brain activity with high temporal and spatial resolution using magnetoencephalography (MEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Working with our collaborators in Oxford and further afield, we also explore brain activity recorded directly with intracranial electrodes. By exploiting convergent methodologies, we are better able to overcome specific limitations inherent to any single approach.

The results of our research will provide a richer understanding of the fundamental neural mechanisms of attention, and how they influence perception and decision-making. Our research also explores how these perceptual biases shape memory formation, and conversely, how our memories, in turn, create new bias patterns. Finally, we are also exploring how individuals differ in their ability to focus attention on behaviourally relevant information, and/or suppress distractions. A clearer understanding of how individuals differ in controlling attention will provide a foundation for further research into how cognitive factors could play a role in neuropsychiatric models of depression and anxiety. 


*News* (updated September 2018):

Congratulations MaryAnn Noonan! Awarded the prestigious Academy of Medical Sciences grant and her recent paper on neural correlates of human social networks in Behavioural Brain Research 

Congratulations Paul Muhle-Karbe! Awarded the Henry Wellcome Fellowship!

Congratulations to Lev Tankelevitch for getting the Nuffield Foundation Flowers Fellowship at POST! 

Congratulations to Sam Hall-McMaster who has received a Trainee Professional Development Award from the Society for Neuroscience!

Congratulations Michael Wolff! Awarded the ESCoP Early Career Publication Award for the paper "Dynamic hidden states underlying working-memory-guided behavior".

Hot off the press

Van Ede, Chekroud, Stokes, Nobre (2018). Decoding the influence of anticipatory states on visual perception in the presence of temporal distractors. Nature Communications. [also see bioRxiv doi:]
Wasmuht, D. F., Spaak, E., Buschman, T. J., Miller, E. K., & Stokes, M. G. (2018). Intrinsic neuronal dynamics predict distinct functional roles during working memory. Nature communications9(1), 3499.

Hot off the pre-press (bioRxiv)

Vidaurre, Myers, Stokes, Nobre, Woolrich (2018). Temporally unconstrained decoding reveals consistent but time-varying stages of stimulus processing, bioRxiv



lab retreat 2017


Our team

Selected publications

Related research themes