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Alexandra Woolgar
Programme leader
01223 767704

Lab website:

We study the neural basis for flexible cognitive control, underpinning the incredible human capacity for diverse and flexible behaviour.

Our research uses multivariate analysis of fMRI, E/MEG, and combined TMS-fMRI data. We are particularly interested in how information from the world is represented, exchanged, and transformed between brain regions and how (and whether!) the activation patterns we decode give rise to thought and behaviour.

We focus on frontoparietal “multiple-demand” (MD) brain regions which are involved in a wide range of tasks. These regions appear to prioritise coding of task-relevant information, providing a neural basis for selective attention. Projects examine the flexibility of the system, the relationship with visual cortices, and the links between MD coding and behaviour.

Separately, we are developing methods to study language processing in children with Autism who do not speak. We aim to use neuroimaging to examine receptive language ability in this understudied population.



Current Postdocs


Current PhD students

CBSU publications
PETIT, S., WOOLGAR, A. , BROWN, A., Jessen, E.T., (In Press) How robustly do multivariate EEG patterns track individual-subject lexico-semantic processing of visual stimuli?, Language, Cognition and Neuroscience [Read More]

BARNES, L., Goddard, E., WOOLGAR, A. (In Press) Neural coding of visual objects rapidly reconfigures to reflect sub-trial shifts in attentional focus, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience [Read More]

Moerel, D., Grootswagers, T., Robinson, A.K., Shatek, S.M., WOOLGAR, A. , Carlson, T.A., & Rich, A.N. (2022) The time-course of feature-based attention effects dissociated from temporal expectation and target-related processes, Nature Scientific Reports, 28 April 2022, 12(1):6968 [Open Access]

KARIMI-ROUZBHANI, H., WOOLGAR, A. , HENSON, R., Nili, H. (2022) Caveats and nuances of model-based and model-free representational connectivity analysis, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10 Mar 2022, 16:755988 [Open Access]

WOOLGAR, A. , Robinson, A., Rich, A. (2022) Linking the brain with behaviour: the neural dynamics of success and failure in goal-directed behaviour, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 34(4):639-654 [Open Access]

KARIM-ROUXBHANI, H., WOOLGAR, A. (2022) When the whole is less than the sum of its parts: maximum object category information and behavioral prediction in multiscale activation patterns, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 02 Mar 2022, 16:825746 [Open Access]

COPE, T.E., HUGHES, L.E., PHILLIPS, H.N., Adams, N.E., Jafarian, A., Nesbitt, D., Assem, m., WOOLGAR, A. , DUNCAN, J., ROWE, J.B. (2022) Causal evidence for the multiple demand network in change detection: auditory mismatch magnetoencephalography across focal neurodegenerative diseases, Journal of Neuroscience, 08 Mar 2022, 42(15):3197-3215 [Open Access]

Goddard, E., Carlson, T.A., WOOLGAR, A. (2022) Spatial and feature-selective attention have distinct, interacting, effects on population level tuning, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 01 Jan 2022, 34(2):290-312 [Open Access]

JACKSON, J., Feredoes, E., Rich, A.N., Lindner, M. WOOLGAR, A. (2021) Concurrent neuroimaging and neurostimulation reveals a causal role for dlPFC in coding of task-relevant information, Communications Biology, 4(1), 588 [Open Access]

KARIMI-ROUZBAHANI, H., Remezani, F., WOOLGAR, A. , Rich, A., Ghodrati, M. (2021) Perceptual difficulty modulates the direction of information flow in familiar face recognition, NeuroImage, 233, 117896 [Open Access]

BARNES, L., PETIT, S., Badcock, N., WHYTE, C., WOOLGAR, A. (2021) Word detection in individual subjects is difficult to probe with fast periodic visual stimulation, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 03 Mar 2021, 15:602798 [Open Access]

Caruana, N., Alhasan, A., Wagner, K, Kaplan, D.M., WOOLGAR, A. , & McArthur, G. (2020) The effect of non-communicative eye movements on joint attention, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(12), 2389-2402 [Open Access]

Petit, S., Badcock, N., Groostwagers, T., WOOLGAR, A. (2020) Unconstrained multivariate EEG decoding can help detect lexical-semantic processing in individual children, Nature Scientific Reports, 10(1):10849 [Open Access]

Petit, S., Badcock, N., WOOLGAR, A. (2020) Finding Hidden Treasures: A Child-Friendly Neural Test of Task-Following in Individuals Using Functional Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound, Neuropsychologia, 03 Jun 2020, :107515 [Open Access]

Petit, S., Badcock, N., Groostwagers, T., Rich, A.N., Brock, J., Nickels, L., Moerel, D., Dermody, N., Yau, S., Schmidt, E., WOOLGAR, A. (2020) Toward an individualised neural assessment of receptive language in children, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(7):2361-2385 [Open Access]

WOOLGAR, A. , Weldon, K.B., Rich, A.N., Williams, M.A. (2020) Late disruption of central visual field disrupts peripheral perception of form and color, PLoS One [Open Access]

BARNES, L., Goddard, E., WOOLGAR, A. (2019) Decoding rules and attended features over multiple task phases, Perception (42nd European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP) 2019 Leuven) [Open Access]

WOOLGAR, A. , Jackson, J.B. (2018) Adaptive Coding in the human brain: Distinct object features are encoded by overlapping voxels in frontoparietal cortex, Cortex, 108:25-34 [Open Access]

Woolgar, A. , DUNCAN, J., Manes, F., Fedorenko, E. (2018) Fluid intelligence is supported by the multiple-demand system not the language system , Nature Human Behaviour, 2, 200–204 [Open Access]

Woolgar, A. , Jackson, J., & DUNCAN, J. (2016) Coding of visual, auditory, rule and response information in the brain: 10 years of multi-voxel pattern analysis, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 218, 1433-1454 [Read More]

Woolgar, A. , Bor, D., DUNCAN, J. (2013) Global increase in task-related fronto-parietal activity after focal frontal lobe lesion, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25(9), 1542-1552 [Read More]

Woolgar, A. , Bor, D., DUNCAN, J.D. (2013) Global increase in task-related activity after focal frontal lobe lesion, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25(9), 1542-1552 [Read More]

Manes, F., Roca, M., Torralva, T., Gleichgerrcht, E., WOOLGAR, A. , THOMPSON, R., DUNCAN, J.D. (2011) The role of Area 10 (BA10) in human multitasking and in social cognition: A lesion study, Neuropsychologia, 49(13), 3525-2531 [Read More]

WOOLGAR, A. , Hampshire, A., THOMPSON, R. & DUNCAN, J. (2011) Adaptive Coding of Task-Relevant Information in Human Frontoparietal Cortex, Journal of Neuroscience, 31(41), 14592-14599 [Open Access]

WOOLGAR, A. , THOMPSON, R., Bor, D., DUNCAN, J. (2011) Multi-voxel coding of stimuli, rules, and responses in human frontoparietal cortex, NeuroImage, 56(2), 744-752 [Read More]

WOOLGAR, A. , Parr, A., CUSACK, R., THOMPSON, R., NIMMO-SMITH, I., Torralva, T., Roca, M., Antoun, N., Manes, F. & DUNCAN, J. (2010) Fluid intelligence loss linked to restricted regions of damage within frontal and parietal cortex, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(33), 14899-14902 [Open Access]

Roca, M., Parr, A., THOMPSON, R., WOOLGAR, A. , Torralva, T., Antoun, N., Manes, F. and DUNCAN, J. (2010) Executive function and fluid intelligence after frontal lobe lesions, Brain, 133(1), 234–247 [Open Access]

WOOLGAR, A. (2009) Multiple-demand regions of human frontal and parietal cortex: function and representational content, Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Cambridge [Read More]

WOOLGAR, A. , Parr, A., CUSACK, R., THOMPSON, R., NIMMO-SMITH, I., Torralva, T., Roca, M., Antoun, N., Manes, F. & DUNCAN, J.D. (2009) Specific brain lesions linked to fluid intelligence loss, Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Wenesday PM, 128 [Open Access]

WOOLGAR, A. & DUNCAN, J. (2008) Multi-voxel coding of stimulus-response mapping rules in human frontal and parietal cortex, 14th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, S132 [Read More]

Hogan,S., Stokes,J., Tyszkiewicz, E., White, C. & WOOLGAR, A. (2008) An evaluation of Auditory Verbal Therapy using the rate of early language development as an outcome measure, Deafness & Education International, 10(3), 143-167 [Read More]

DUNCAN, J., Parr, A., WOOLGAR, A. , THOMPSON, R., Bright, P., Cox, S., BISHOP, S. & NIMMO-SMITH, I. (2008) Goal neglect and Spearman’s g: Competing parts of a complex task, JEP: General, 137(1), 131-148 [Read More]

WOOLGAR, A. , BOR, D., DUNCAN, J., Parr, A., CUSACK, R., NIMMO-SMITH, I., Antoun, N, Manes, F. & Torralava, T (2007) Fluid intelligence after brain damage: relating brain lesion to behavioural deficit, 13th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, S115 [Read More]