David Mehler

Research group:
029 208 70365
CUBRIC, Maindy Road

Research summary

My PhD focuses on clinical applications of neurofeedback training for motor rehabilitation, including stroke and Parkinson’s disease patients, and mental imagery based neurofeedback training in depression.

Teaching summary

2015 – 2018: PS2025 – I am a tutor in statistics for 2nd year Psychology students.
2014 – 2016: PS1018 – I provided tutorials for 1st year Psychology students (basic statistics, report writing) and mark their course work.  

Full list of publications


Research topics and related papers

Neurofeedback training
My main interest is testing the feasibility and clinical efficacy of neurofeedback training for the rehabilitation and treatment of psychiatric and neurological conditions. . During neurofeedback training patients engage in mental imagery while being provided with a feedback signal, for instance a thermometer display, that represents the activity of a certain brain region or network that is being trained. Thereby, patients can learn to control this activity. Recent trials of real-time fMRI neurofeedback suggest that this technique may improve clinical symptoms. For instance, patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease show better motor outcomes, and patients suffering from depression show improvement in mood.

Young, K. D., Sigle G.J., Zotev, V., …, Bodurka, J. (2017). Randomized Clinical Trial of Real- Time fMRI Amygdala Neurofeedback for Major Depression Disorder: Effects on Symptoms and Autobiographical Memory Recall. American Journal of Psychiatry, 174(8), 748-755.

Subramanian, L., Busse Morris, M., Brosnan, M., …, Linden, D. E. J. (2016). Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Neurofeeedback-guided Motor Imagery Training and Motor Training for Parkinson’s Disease: Randomized Trial. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 10:111. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00111

We have recently completed one of the first randomized controlled trials of real-time fMRI neurofeedback training in depressed patients. In cooperation with our collaborators, we are currently conducting clinical studies for motor rehabilitation. This includes a feasibility study of real-time fMRI neurofeedback training with stroke patients (Prof Duncan Turner, University of East London), the protocol is preregistered and publicly accesscible on the Open Science Framework. We are also involved in a trial of EEG neurofeedback training for motor rehabilitation in Parkinson’s disease (Dr John Hindle, Bangor University).

Motor learning in redundant systems
The biomechanics of the human limbs equip us with more joints than we would need to fulfil a motor task in the 3-dimensional space that we live in. To date we know very little about the learning principles that can describe and predict how the brain learns new movements when being confronted with a redundant task setting. This becomes especially relevant when joint control is impaired due to neural loss (e.g. after stroke) and patients need to “re-learn” physiological movements involving multiple joints. Thus, a better understanding of the relevant learning principles will enable scientists to design more efficient and specific neurorehabilitation regimes.

Wolpert, D. M., Diedrichsen, J., & Flanagan, J. R. (2011). Principles of sensorimotor learning. Nat Rev Neurosci, 12(12), 739-751.


Health and Care Research Wales. £ 59.000

Research group


Imaging Science

Internal Research collaborators

Prof David Linden, CUBRIC & Maastricht University
Prof Richard Wise, CUBRIC
Dr Joseph Whittaker, CUBRIC
Dr Chris Allen, CUBRIC
Dr James Kolasinski, CUBRIC

External collaborators


Prof Duncan Turner, Neurorehabilitation Unit, University of East London
Dr John Hindle, School of Medical Sciences, Bangor University
Dr Paul Hanel, Department of Psychology, University of Bath


Prof Jörn Diedrichsen, Brain and Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Prof Konrad Kording, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Prof Alexandra Reichenbach, Department for Computer Science, Heilbronn University of Applied Science, Germany
Prof Rainer Goebel, Brain Innovation B.V. & Maastricht University, Netherlands
Prof Patricia Ohrmann, Department of Psychiatry & Psychotherapy, University Hospital Münster, Germany
Dr Florian Krause , Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behavior, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Michael Luehrs , Brain Innovation B.V. & Maastricht University, Netherlands
Johannes Algermissen, Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behavior, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands

Media activities

In my role as Communications Committee member at the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM), I regularly write blog articles and conduct interviews on topics around open science and neuroimaging for the OHBM blog as well as my own blog channel on Medium. I am also a guest science writer for the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS).

Brain Computer Interfaces for neurological patients – tools to support rehabilitation and communication. Medium, 2017
Turbo-Launching OHBM 2017 and Future of Translational Stroke Imaging – Interview with Prof Lara Boyd. OHBM blog, 2017
Making Neuroscience More Reproducible – Interview with Prof Russel Poldrack. OHBM blog, 2017
Neurofeedback Training – Where Imaging and Therapy Converge. CNS blog, 2017
Debunking the Myth that fMRI Studies are Invalid. CNS blog, 2016
Journal Club on “Cluster Failure: Why fMRI Inferences for Spatial Extent Have Inflated False-Positive Rates”. CNS blog, 2016

Undergraduate education

2013 –2014: Exchange year in Clinical Medicine, Cardiff University School of Medicine
2011 – 2013: Part-time distance studies in Psychology, Fernuniversität in Hagen, Germany
2009 –2012: Studies in Medicine, University of Münster, Germany

Postgraduate education

2012 – 2013: MD dissertation project, motor control group, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London
Thesis title: Robot assisted motor reinforcement learning – reducing natural motor variability in a redundant reaching task.

Awards (selected)

Junior Researcher of the Year, 2nd year PhD prize (2017). Cardiff University School of Psychology
Young Investigator award (2017). International Society for Cerebral Blood Flor and Metabolism
Travel bursary for Autumn School in Cognitive neuroscience (2017). University of Oxford

Project funding

Reproducible Science Workshop for Early Career Scientists (2017), (Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter). £ 2,000
Perspectives of Bayesian Statistics for the Life Sciences (2017), Doctoral Academy, Cardiff University. £ 1,000

Studentships (selected)

2010 – 2014: Heinrich Böll Foundation, studentship
2012 – 2014: ERASMUS studentship (London, Cardiff)
2012: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), travel grant

External committees

Executive Board Member at the European MD/PhD Association (EMPA)
Associate Editor at the Journal for European Psychology Students (JEPS)
Communications Committee member at the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM)


Oct 2017- Feb 2018: Research Assistant, BRAINTRAIN consortium
2011 – 2012: Research Assistant, Institute of Biomagnetism & Biosignalanalysis, University of Münster, Germany
2010 – 2012: Tutor for 1st and 2nd year medical students in Neuroanatomy, Histology and Biochemistry, University of Münster, Germany
2009 & 2010: Visiting research student, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, USA