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MaryAnn Noonan

MaryAnn Noonan

Research Fellow

MaryAnn Noonan

BSc(Hons), MSc, DPhil

Post-doctoral Research Fellow

MaryAnn is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Attention Group. Her research explores the fundamental brain mechanisms of attention that are essential for inhibiting cognitive processing of irrelevant distracting information. Her experiments exploit a range of methods, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to test how the human brain is able to selectively suppress expected distracting perceptual input, and also information held in mind as working memory. 

This research will contribute to a deeper understanding of the complex neural processes that are responsible for coordinating diverse brain functions for coherent flexible behaviour. A more complete knowledge of the neurophysiological principles of attention and cognitive control will allow us to address the profound difficulties that arise when these fundamental mechanisms go awry in psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety.

MaryAnn's previous research has focused on dissociating cognitive functions in the frontal lobe, especially the mechanisms underlying the accumulation of experience and the utilisation of this experience in order to guide behaviour and solve problems. MaryAnn completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of York and her MSc and DPhil in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. MaryAnn's DPhil and subsequent post-doctoral position with Matthew Rushworth focused on the neural basis of learning, decision making and social cognition. MaryAnn spent a further year as a post-doctoral research fellow at McGill University, Canada and working with Lesley Fellows before taking up her post-doctoral position in the Attention Group, OHBA. This background equips MaryAnn with an interdisciplinary approach that draws on complementary neuroimaging and lesion techniques in humans and non-human primate models. For a full academic bio, see her CV here.


Noonan, M.P., Kolling, N., Walton, M.E., and Rushworth, M.F.S. (2012) Re-evaluating the role of the orbitofrontal cortex in reward and reinforcement. European Journal of Neuroscience. 35(7):997-1010.

Mars, R.B., Neubert, F.X., Noonan, M.P., Sallet, J., Toni, I. and Rushworth, M.F.S. (in press). On the relationship between the ‘default mode network’ and the ‘social brain’ Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

J Sallet*, RB Mars*, MP Noonan*, J Andersson, J O’Reilly, S Jbabdi, P Croxson, K Miller, M Jenkinson, MFS Rushworth. (2011) Social network size affects neural circuits in macaques. Science. 334, 697-700 *authors contributed equally to this work.

Noonan, M.P., Mars, R.B., and Rushworth, M.F.S. (2011). Distinct roles of three frontal cortical areas in reward-guided behavior. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(40):14399-412

Walton, M.E., Behrens, T.E.J., MaryAnn P. Noonan, M.P. and Rushworth, M.F.S. (2011) Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Orbitofrontal Cortex and Valuation in an Uncertain World. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1239:14-24

Rushworth MF, Noonan MP, Boorman ED, Walton ME, Behrens TE. (2011) Frontal cortex and reward-guided learning and decision-making. Neuron. 70(6):1054-69.

Mars., R.B., Jbabdi, S., Sallet, J., OReilly, J.X., Croxson, P.L., Olivier, E., Noonan, M.P., et al. (2011). Diffusion-weighted imaging tractography-based parcellation of the human parietal cortex and comparison with human and macaque resting state functional connectivity. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(11):4087-100.

Boorman, E.B., and Noonan, M.P. (2011). Contributions of ventromedial prefrontal and frontal polar cortex to reinforcement learning and value-based choice. Neural basis of Motivation and Cognitive Control. Ed. Mars, R.B., Sallet, J., Rushworth, M.F.S. and Young, N. Cambridge: MIT press.

Noonan, M.P., Walton, M.E., Behrens, T.E., Sallet, J., Buckley, M.J. and Rushworth, M.F.S. (2010).Separate value comparison and learning mechanisms in macaque medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex.PNAS 107(47):20547-52

Noonan, M.P., Sallet., J., Rudebeck. P.H., Buckley, and M.J. Rushworth, M.F.S. (2010). Does the medial orbitofrontal cortex have a role in social valuation? European Journal of Neuroscience. 31(12):2341-51.

Manly T, Dove A, Blows S, George M, Noonan MP, Teasdale TW, Dodds CM, Fish J, and Warburton E. (2009) Assessment of unilateral spatial neglect: scoring star cancellation performance from video recordings-method, reliability, benefits, and normative data. Neuropsychology. 23(4):519-28.

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Recent Publications