Imogen Birch

Research group:
Cognitive Neuroscience
CUBRIC, Maindy Road

Research summary

My research investigates targeted memory reactivation, a method of cueing specific memories during sleep, as a tool to reduce the emotional arousal associated with fearful memories. Using a multifaceted approach, I use physiological measures such as skin conductance response and heart rate variability, with neural measures such as EEG and fMRI. Human studies conducted in CUBRIC will be complemented with animal data from the University of Bristol. Initially, I am using fear conditioning as a behavioural model of fearful learning and consolidation over sleep. This enables me to study neural, behavioural, and physiological responses to fear conditioned stimuli before and after sleep.    

Research topics and related papers

My PhD spans the general research topics of learning and memory, sleep, and emotion. Specific focuses are fear conditioning and targeted memory reactivation. See related papers below. Phillips, R. G., & LeDoux, J. E. (1992). Differential contribution of amygdala and hippocampus to cued and contextual fear conditioning. Behavioral neuroscience, 106(2), 274. Oudiette, D., & Paller, K. A. (2013). Upgrading the sleeping brain with targeted memory reactivation. Trends in cognitive sciences, 17(3), 142-149. Cairney, S. A., Durrant, S. J., Hulleman, J., & Lewis, P. A. (2014). Targeted memory reactivation during slow wave sleep facilitates emotional memory consolidation. Sleep, 37(4), 701-707. Hauner, K. K., Howard, J. D., Zelano, C., & Gottfried, J. A. (2013). Stimulus-specific enhancement of fear extinction during slow-wave sleep. Nature neuroscience, 16(11), 1553.


My PhD is funded by the MRC as part of a biomedical doctoral training partnership between the GW4 universities (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter).

Research group

My supervisor is Professor Penny Lewis

I am part of the NaPS (Neuroscience and Psychology of Sleep) group

Research collaborators

Professor Matt Jones (Physiology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience, University of Bristol)

Undergraduate education

Psychology (BSc), University of York.

Postgraduate Education

Cognitive Neuroscience (MSc), University of East Anglia.