Professor Chris Chambers BSc PhD CPsychol FBPsS

Head of Brain Stimulation, CUBRIC

Research groups:
Cognitive Science
029 208 70331
CUBRIC, Maindy Road

Research summary

My principal research interests include the use of brain stimulation (TMS, TES) and brain imaging techniques (fMRI, MRS, MEG) to understand cognitive control, attention and awareness in the human brain. I am especially interested in translational applications of cognitive neuroscience in the domain of obesity and behaviour change. My group is also working on the simultaneous combination of TMS and MRI, as well as technical advances in TMS methods to improve the precision and reliability of cortical stimulation.

In addition to my core research programme in cognitive neuroscience I also pursue interests in the relationship between science and the media, the role of science in shaping evidence-based public policy, and the promotion of open scientific practices including data sharing and study pre-registration.

Teaching summary

Academic Teaching

Level 1 Psychology: ‘Magnetic stimulation of the human brain in psychology and neuroscience’ (2009-2014)

Level 3 Psychology: ‘Methods and applications of transcranial magnetic stimulation’ (2010-2013)

MSc in Neuroimaging Methods and Applications (2011-)

Professional Workshops

ARC Centre for Excellence, Macquarie University, Australia –  ‘Workshop on basic research with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)’ (2011)

MARCS Auditory Laboratories, University of Western Sydney, Australia – ‘Introduction to transcranial magnetic stimulation’ (2011)

Marie Curie FP7 Advanced Training Course, U.K., ‘Applications of transcranial magnetic stimulation in cognitive neuroscience’ (2010)

CUBRIC, Wales Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (WICN) Summer School – ‘Introduction to TMS’ and two-day practical workshop (2009)

Psychology Department, University of California San Diego – ‘Introduction to theory and practice of TMS’  (2007)

Magstim TMS Summer School – ‘Practical Introduction to TMS’ (2007)

Dartmouth Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience – ‘Introduction to TMS’ (2006)

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Online publications

Full list of publications


Media activities

Science Journalism

The Guardian

The Levespm Inquiry

Le Monde France

The Guardian

The Guardian

The Guardian

The New York Times

Research topics and related papers

1. Cognitive Control

Current team members: Rachel Adams, Chris Allen, Leah Maizey, Jemma Sedgmond, Loukia Tzavella

Neural mechanisms of cognitive control enable us to coordinate, execute, and update behaviour. The prefrontal cortex has long been associated with cognitive control but the architecture of the prefrontal system is one of the great unsolved mysteries in cognitive neuroscience. Within the broad field of cognitive control (or ‘executive functions’), our research focuses on understanding the neural basis of response inhibition, response selection, and the link between inhibition and risk-taking (including gambling and eating behaviour), principally through the application of training methods, TMS and TES.

Current collaborations in cognitive control:
Dr Mark Bellgrove (University of Queensland)
Dr Pete Etchells (Bath Spa University and The Guardian)
Dr John Evans
Prof. Derek Jones 
Dr Natalia Lawrence (University of Exeter)
Prof Tony Manstead
Dr James Randerson (The Guardian)
Prof Petroc Sumner
Prof Frederick Verbruggen (University of Exeter)

2. Attention and Awareness

Current team members: Chris Allen, Rory Cutler, Jemma Sedgmond

Our sensory environment contains a vast quantity of information, only a fraction of which can guide behaviour. Brain mechanisms of attention are crucial for enhancing the processing of stimuli that are relevant to current goals. Within the field of attention, our research focuses on the use of TMS and fMRI to understand the cognitive neuroscience of attentional control and spatial representations. We are also interested in the neurophysiology and neurochemistry that supports consciousness in the occipital and frontal cortex.

Current collaborations in attention/awareness:
Dr Elena Rusconi (Abertay University)

3. Concurrent TMS and MRI

Current team members:  Chris Allen, Leah Maizey, Jemma Sedgmond

The combination of TMS and neuroimaging (MRI, EEG) provides a unique window on human brain function, with broad applications and implications across the cognitive and clinical neurosciences. By applying TMS within the MRI scanner, we can directly observe the physiological consequences of stimulation both locally (at the site of stimulation) and in remote interconnected brain regions. The integration of TMS and different imaging techniques also holds great promise for revealing the mechanism by which TMS influences neurophysiology and neurovascular coupling.

We recently established concurrent TMS-MRI at CUBRIC via the Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) grant programme, an initiative of the Welsh Assembly Government that funds links between academia and industry in Wales. Our industrial partners on this project were Welsh neuromedical companies Magstim and Dymed. Together we have developed passive shim technology that nearly eliminates one major source of interference between TMS and MRI.

Current collaborations in TMS-MRI:
Dr John Evans (Cardiff University)
Industry: Robin Davies (Magstim) and Mike Polson (Dymed)

4. TMS Methods

The application of TMS in cognitive neuroscience carries a variety of technical and interpretative challenges. As a neurostimulation method, one critical issue is the control of TMS intensity. What strength of TMS is sufficient to yield effective (but not excessive) stimulation of cortical tissue? We have found that the extent of cortical activity during TMS is steeply related to the distance between the scalp and cortex. Even a difference of 1mm in the scalp-cortex distance between different sites can have a measurable and reliable effect on TMS-evoked behaviour. We have therefore developed a scaling method for calibrating the intensity of TMS according to scalp-cortex distance, thus enabling more precise and comparable stimulation of different regions.

Current collaborations in TMS methods:
Dr Mark Stokes (University of Oxford)

5. The relationship between science and the media - the Insciout project

Current team members:  Rachel Adams, Solveiga Stonkute, Louise White

We are interested in how press releases issued by universities and academic journals influence the reporting of science news in the media. By understanding both positive and negative effects we aim to formulate an evidence-based policy for maximizing the impact and accuracy of science-related public relations. This project is supported by an ESRC transformative grant, the Wellcome Trust, and the British Psychological Society. It also benefits from our close relationship with the Science Media Centre. For more information about this research see our main research page.

Current collaborations in science and the media:
Prof Jacky Boivin
Dr Lewis Bott
Prof Jenny Kitzinger
Prof Petroc Sumner
Dr Andy Williams

6. The Evidence Information Service

We are developing a new service to facilitate communication between academic researchers and UK politicians and civil servants. The aim of the Evidence Information Service (EIS) will be to act as a rapid matchmaking and advisory service, connecting politicians with experts in academia and industry. The EIS will host a database of scientists who are willing to commit their time voluntarily to help policy makers obtain and interpret the most reliable evidence on specific issues. Such activities will include the provision and explanation of peer-reviewed literature, statistical consulting, and the critical assessment of data or conclusions. For more information see the summary of our 2015 national consultation exercise with UK parliamentarians.

Current collaborations on the Evidence Information Service:
Dr Natalia Lawrence
Dr Sven Bestmann
Dr Andrew Kythreotis
Dr Gerard O’Grady

7. Open Science

Psychology and cognitive neuroscience are in the midst of a reproducibility crisis that can be solved through the adoption of practices that boost the transparency of the research process. Since 2014 I have served as chair of the Registered Reports Committee of the Center for Open Science (COS). Registered Reports are a new form of empirical article that tackles publication bias and questionable research practices (such as p-hacking and post hoc hypothesizing) by conducting peer review before data collection and analysis. I am also a member of the COS Transparency and Openness (TOP) Guidelines committee, which proposes a series of guidelines for academic journals to improve the credibility of published work. In 2015 we published the TOP guidelines in the journal Science, led by COS Executive Director Brian Nosek. For more information see our TOP information page at the COS.


Current Major Grants

Chambers, C.D. European Research Council Consolidator Grant, ‘The psychology and neurobiology of cognitive control training in humans’, 2015-2020 (€1,998,305)

Chambers, C.D., Verbruggen, F.L.J., Boy, F., Dymond, S. & Lawrence, N. Wellcome Trust ISSF Seedcorn Grant (U.K.), ‘Can GABAergic brain stimulation promote risk aversion in gambling?’, 2013-2015 (£33,572)

Chambers, C.D. & Verbruggen, F.L.J. BBSRC Project Grant (U.K.), ‘Neural dynamics of response inhibition and gambling across the lifespan’, 2013-2016 (£882,321)

Previous Major Grants

Verbruggen F.L.J, Chambers, C.D., Lavric, A. & McLaren, I. Economic and Social Research Council (U.K.) ‘Do executive motor-control mechanisms regulate monetary choice and gambling?’, 2012-2015 (£546,626)

Bellgrove, M.A., Hester, R., Chambers, C.D., Garavan, H. & Hawi, Z. National Health and Medical Research Council project grant (Australia) ‘Genetic and physiological mechanisms of executive control’, 2011-2014 ($541,048)

Chambers, C.D., Singh, K., Wise, R., Jones, D., Jiles, D, & Bestmann, S. Academic Expertise For Business grant (Welsh Assembly) ‘The integrated brain imaging and stimulation project (IBIS)’, 2010-2013 (£349,885)

Chambers, C.D. BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship (U.K.), ‘Investigating the neural basis of selective attention in the human brain: A combined neurodisruption and neuroimaging study, 2006-2011 (£421,754)

Chambers, C.D. & Driver, J. BBSRC Project Grant (U.K.), ‘Multisensory dynamics of selective attention in the human brain: A combined neurodisruption and neuroimaging project’, 2007-2011 (£403,884)

Bellgrove, M.A. & Chambers, C.D. ARC Project Grant (Australia), 'The cognitive neuroscience of executive control: behavioural, physiological and genetic mechanisms’, 2007-2010 ($319,000)

Research group

Since 2008 my group has been made up of staff and students from a wide range of backgrounds, including physics, neuroscience, and experimental psychology.

Lab Head: 
Prof Chris Chambers

Postdoctoral Research Fellows:
Dr Rachel Adams
Dr Chris Allen
Leah Maizey, PhD

Honourary Research Fellows:
Prof Frederick Verbruggen

Lab Manager:
Jemma Sedgmond

Research Assistants:
Dr Louise White

Graduate Students:
Rory Cutler, PhD
Solveiga Stonkute, PhD
Loukia Tzavella, PhD

Heidi Castle

Dr Andreas Bungert
Dr Jane Klemen
Sinead Morrison
Dr Alice Varnava

Postgraduate research interests

I am happy to discuss projects that fall within the scope of:

  • Human cognitive control, including response inhibition, decision-making, and eating behaviour
  • Psychological and neural mechanisms of selective attention and conscious awareness
  • Concurrent brain stimulation and neuroimaging
  • Methodological advances in TMS
  • Evidence-based public policy
  • The relationship between science and the media
  • Scientific publishing reform

Current students

Rory Cutler, PhD
Leah Maizey, PhD
Solveiga Stonkute, PhD
Loukia Tzavella, PhD

Previous students

Dr Rachel Adams
Dr Chris Allen
Dr Emma Cheetham
Mr Charles Hounsell
Dr Veldri Kurniawan
Dr Marcel Meyer
Bertram Schenkluhn, Diplomarbeit, 2006-2007, University College London
Dr Adam Morris, PhD, 2003-2008, University of Melbourne
Dr Jonathan Payne, DPsych, 2002-2005, University of Melbourne

Undergraduate education

Bachelor of Science (Behavioural) with Honours (1st class), Monash University, 1998

Postgraduate education

PhD in Experimental Psychology, Monash University, 2002
Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), British Psychological Society, 2011

Awards/external committees

Chair of the Registered Reports Committee, Center for Open Science 2014-
Advisory Committee, Science Media Centre 2014-
Fellow of the British Psychological Society (FBPsS), 2011
Spearman Medal, British Psychological Society, 2007
BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship, 2006-2011
Australian Academy of Science, European Travelling Fellowship, 2004


Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
Head of Brain Stimulation, CUBRIC

Previous Appointments

Senior Research Fellow, Head of the CUBRIC Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Group, Cardiff University (2008-2014)
BBSRC David Phillips Fellow, School of Psychology, Cardiff University (2008-2011)
BBSRC David Phillips Fellow, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London (2006-2008)
NHMRC Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Melbourne, Australia (2004-2006)
NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Melbourne, Australia (2002-2004)


Chartered Member, British Psychological Society
Society for Neuroscience
Association of British Science Writers (ABSW)

Journal Editorships

Section Editor, European Journal of Neuroscience 2016-
Section Editor, Royal Society Open Science 2015-
Section Editor, AIMS Neuroscience 2013-
Section Editor, Cortex 2012-
Section Editor, Collabra 2015-
Academic Editor, PLOS ONE 2012-2015

Manuscript reviewing activities

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Behavior Research Methods, Instruments and Computers
Biological Psychiatry
Brain and Cognition
Brain Research
Brain Stimulation
Brain Structure and Function
Cerebral Cortex
Cognitive Brain Research
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Current Biology
Drug and Alcohol Dependence
European Journal of Neurology
Experimental Brain Research
Experimental Psychology
Human Brain Mapping
JMIR Serious Games
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Journal of Media Psychology
Journal of Neurophysiology
Journal of Neuroscience
Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Journal of Psychopharmacology
Neuroscience Letters
Open Biology
Perception & Psychophysics
PLOS Biology
Psychiatry Research
Psychological Research
Psychological Science
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
Royal Society Open Science
Trends in Cognitive Sciences

Grant reviewing activities

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Leverhulme Trust
Medical Research Council (MRC)
National Science Foundation
Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NOW)
Neurological Foundation of New Zealand
Wellcome Trust

Invited Talks (2006 onwards)

F-ESN Summer School, Freie Universität Berlin, 2016
SGSSS Summer School, University of Edinburgh, 2016
Royal Society, London, BPS event: Replication and Reproducibility in Psychology, 2016
Bellwether Lecture, University of Oxford, 2016
Academy of Medical Sciences meeting on Reproducibility, London, 2015
University College London, #IsScienceBroken event, 2015
NC3Rs workshop on publication bias in preclinical research, London, 2015
Café Scientifique, Evidence Information Service event, Bristol, 2015
Royal Society, London, 2014
Association for Psychological Science, San Francisco, USA, 2014
Department of Psychology, University of California San Diego, 2014
Amsterdam Medical Centre, Netherlands, 2014
Science Media Centre, London, 2014
School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Australia, 2013
Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Conference, Monash University, Australia, 2013
School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, 2013
University of California San Diego, USA, 2013
School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, 2013
Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2013
School of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol 2013
Japan Neuroscience Society Meeting, Kyoto 2013
School of Psychology, University of Sussex 2013
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford 2013
Division of Psychology, University of Abertay Dundee 2013
National Assembly for Wales, Cross-party Group on Science and Technology, Cardiff 2013
Royal Institution, London 2012
School of Psychology, University of Exeter 2012
CASE Europe Conference, Birmingham 2012
Department of Psychiatry, CHU Brugmann, Brussels, Belgium, 2011
Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Australia, 2011
MARCS Auditory Labs, University of Western Sydney, Australia, 2011
Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, 2010
Centre for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento, Italy, 2009
Welsh Branch of the British Psychological Society, Cardiff, 2009
Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Australia, 2009
Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Australia, 2009
Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Australia, 2009
Themed speaker, Young Neuroscientist Day, Cardiff University, 2008
Spearman Medal Lecture, BPS Annual Conference, Dublin, 2008
Department of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, 2008
FMRIB Centre, University of Oxford, 2007
Psychology Department, University of California San Diego, 2007
School of Psychology, Cardiff University, 2007
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Australia, 2007
Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, Philadelphia, 2006
Chaucer Club Presentation, MRC CBU, University of Cambridge, 2006
Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit, University of Durham, 2006
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 2006
School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, 2006
Department of Psychology, University College London, 2006