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Christopher Chambers  BSc PhD CPsychol FBPsS

Yr Athro Christopher Chambers BSc PhD CPsychol FBPsS


Yr Ysgol Seicoleg

+44 29208 70331
Canolfan Ymchwil Delweddu'r Ymennydd Prifysgol Caerdydd, Heol Maendy, Caerdydd, CF24 4HQ
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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.

I am also a freelance science writer at the Guardian where I co-host the psychology blog, HeadQuarters.


























My research addresses questions across a range of fields. Within cognitive neuroscience, I am primarily interested in understanding attention and impulse control, and translational applications in clinical fields such as addiction.

In 2012 I jointly established the Insciout research group together with Petroc Sumner, Jacky Boivin and Andy Williams. Insciout is a collaborative project between the School of Psychology and the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. Our aim is to identify causes of error in the translation of science to the news, and to develop evidence-based guidelines for best practice in science/media interactions.

I am also the co-founder of the UK Evidence Information Service, a research-led initiative that aims to facilitate interaction between academia and politicians in the service of evidence-based policy.


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 topics and related papers

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:

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:

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).

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:

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.

Learn more about InSciOut.

Current collaborations in science and the media:

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.

Read the summary of our 2015 national consultation exercise with UK parliamentarians.

Current collaborations on the Evidence Information Service:

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.

Learn more about Transparency and Openness (TOP).


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).


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.

Anrhydeddau a dyfarniadau

  • British Psychological Society, 2007 Spearman Medal Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Meysydd goruchwyliaeth

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

Goruchwyliaeth gyfredol

Ben Meghreblian

Ben Meghreblian

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Aoife O'mahony

Aoife O'mahony

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