CEN Research Group

The CEN Research Group considers current issues in educational neuroscience. It meets weekly during university term-time on the Bloomsbury campus. It combines seminars, discussions of relevant journal articles, policy initiatives, data presentations from MSc and PhD students, and informal presentations from faculty members on the relation of their research to educational neuroscience.


The research group is open to faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, and students (especially those on the Educational Neuroscience and Developmental Sciences masters, and PhD students studying relevant topics). It is also open to educationalists, educational psychologists, and interested teachers. Meetings are envisaged not to exceed 20, to enable an atmosphere of informal discussion. If you would like to attend or be included on the email circulation list, please contact CEN Administrator.

The list below describes the current members of the CEN Research Group:

Meeting Schedule

Meetings take place from 4-5pm on THURSDAY afternoons at Birkbeck (Room 534, Main Building in Malet Street, unless otherwise advertised).

CEN Research Group: Autumn Term Schedule 2017

  • 12th October – Dr. Iroise Dumontheil (Birkbeck). Discussion of the paper by Alvarez-Bueno et al. (2017). The effect of physical activity interventions on children’s cognition and metacognition: A systematic review and analysis. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 56, 729-738.
  • 19th October – Professor Stella Vosniadou (Flinders University, Australia). The recruitment of inhibition and shifting in the employment of science concepts in on-line conceptual change tasks.
  • 26th October – Alex Hodgkiss (UCL Institute of Education). The contribution of spatial skills to children’s scientific reasoning and achievement.
  • 2nd November – Annie Brookman-Byrne (Birkbeck) and Lia Commissar (Wellcome Trust). How can we move the field of educational neuroscience forward?
  • 9th November – Dr. Natalia Kucirkova (UCL). The impact of digital personalisation on children’s experiences of texts and stories.
  • 15th November: Professor Daniel Ansari (University of Western Ontario). Title TBC. NOTE, WEDNESDAY SEMINAR
  • 23rd November: Fiona Button. Title TBC
  • 30th November: Professor Michael Thomas (Birkbeck). The neuroscience of poverty.
  • 7th December: Dr Jenni Rodd (UCL). How do we understand the meanings of words?

CEN Research Group: Summer Term Schedule 2017

  • 4th May – Professor Michael Thomas (Birkbeck). Can executive functions be improved through training? Discussion of Diamond and Ling’s (2016) review paper’
  • 11th May – Dr John Jerrin (UCL Institute of Education). Quantitative education and social research.
  • 18th May – Dr Emma Meaburn (Birkbeck). Evidence for wide scale pleiotropy in genetic studies of cognition: what is it and what does it mean? (Final title TBC)
  • 1st June – Dr Thomas Hunt (Department of Life Sciences, University of Derby). Title TBC (topic: Maths performance and anxiety)
  • 8th June: Alice Jones Bartoli (Goldsmiths College). Title TBC (topic: Social and emotional processing in children with behavioural problems)
  • 15th June: Prof. Nazanin Derakshan (Birkbeck). Title: Improving attentional control to reduce anxiety and depressive related vulnerability in adolescents
  • 29th June: Dr Darya Gaysina (University of Sussex). What rare genetic syndromes can tell us about variation in educationally relevant traits. Title TBC
  • 6th July: Dr Toni-Kim Clarke (Edinburgh University). UK biobank and Generation Scotland findings: positive genetic links between alcohol consumption and education

CEN Research Group: Spring Term Schedule 2017

  • 19th January – Katie Gillingham (CEN PhD student). Exploring the developmental relations between spatial cognition and mathematics in primary school
  • 26th January – Su Morris (CEN PhD student). The relationship between Field Independence, and maths and science ability – early indications from a recent study.
  • 2nd February – Dr Sam Wass (University of East London). New Meanings of ‘thin-skinned’: autonomic and neural correlates of biological sensitivity to context
  • 9th February – Dr Roberto Filippi (UCL Institute of Education). Bilingual minds: The impact of speaking two (or more) languages on cognitive development
  • 23rd February – Dr Anna Pearce (UCL Institute of Child Health). Socio-economic inequalities and academic achievement
  • 9th March – Professor Michael Thomas (Birkbeck). Challenges in evaluating educational interventions: Evidence vs. evidence-based practice
  • 16th March – Professor Jacqueline Barnes (Birkbeck).Professor Jacqueline Barnes (Birkbeck). Challenges to evaluating early (group) intervention: Results of an RCT of group family nurse partnership.
  • 23rd March – Dr. Iro Xenidou-Dervou (Loughborough University). Explaining individual differences in early mathematics achievement

CEN Research Group: Autumn Term Schedule 2016

  • 13th October: Prof. Michael Thomas (Birkbeck) – “Is educational neuroscience all it’s cracked up to be?”
  • 20th October: Dr Iroise Dumontheil (Birkbeck) – “Mindfulness training during adolescence”
  • 27th October: Ms Georgie Donati (Birkbeck) – “Characterising executive functions during adolescence: Implications for genetic research into academic achievement”
  • 3rd November: Dr Josie Booth (University of Edinburgh) – “Linking the mind and the body in education: The role of physical activity in children’s cognition and attainment”
  • 17th November: Ms Kaili Rimfeld and Ms Eva Loth (Institute Of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London) – “The aetiology of educational achievement and the cognitive and non-cognitive predictors of achievement”
  • 24th November: Dr Tom Gallagher-Mitchell (Liverpool Hope University) – “A Journey Through Numbers, Space and Time: A developmental perspective”
  • 1st December: TBC
  • 8th December: Professor Ted Meluish (Birkbeck) – “Long-term effects of early years experience”

CEN Research Group: Spring Term Schedule 2016

  • 7th January – Su Morris, UCL IOE. Why might an understanding of global/local processing be important for learning? G1 seminar room, 25 Woburn Square
  • 14th January – External seminar. Prof Claire Hughes, Cambridge. Title tbc. G1 seminar room, 25 Woburn Square
  • 21st January – External seminar. Dr. Tim Smith, Birkbeck. Investigating the impact of touchscreen use on toddler’s cognitive development: Introducing the TABLET project G1 seminar room, 25 Woburn Square
  • 28th January – Georgina Donati, Birkbeck. Developing reasoning in primary schools through philosophical enquiry, G1 seminar room, 25 Woburn Square
  • 4th February – Alex Hodgkiss, UCL IOE. Spatial ability and science performance: Can early spatial training influence successful engagement with science and science outcomes? G1 seminar room, 25 Woburn Square
  • 11th February – Dr. Emma Meaburn. Title tbc. SSRU seminar room, 18 Woburn Square
  • 25th February –  Hannah Ward, UCL IOE. Journal paper presentation. SSRU seminar room, 18 Woburn Square
  • 3rd March – Emma Campbell. UCL IOE. Investigating underlying cognitive deficits in children with cerebral palsy and how the contribute to mathematical ability SSRU seminar room, 18 Woburn Square
  • 10th March –  Dr. Charles Chew, Ministry of Education, Singapore. Development of Innovative Bio-physics Demonstrations for Constructivist Teaching using the Predict-Observe-Explain [POE] Instructional Approach. SSRU seminar room, 18 Woburn Square.

For past schedules of the CEN Research group please click here.