Welcome to the website of the Cognitive Neuroecology Lab, a neuroscience research group based at the FMRIB Centre of the University of Oxford, United Kingdom and at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen, the Netherlands
We aim to understand what it is that makes brains the way they are. Primates, and especially humans, have exceptionally large brains for their body size. Between primates, brains differ in size and in their internal organization. Why is this? Each brain is an adaptation to the particular environment its owner lives in. Differences between brains are the result of deviations from ancestral brains that arose to deal with challenges in the environment.
To study these questions we use two complementary approaches. First, we have pioneered the development of a new approach to compare brain organization between brains that differ vastly in size and morphology, the common space approach. Together with new high-throughput methods for collecting data from post-mortem samples, this has allowed us to produce the first atlases of a range of primate species' brains, investigate the phylogeny of the primate brain, and recently to compare brain architecture across the entire spectrum of mammals. An important part of this reseach aims to understand the similarities and differences between the human brain and those of various model species, including the macaque monkey and the mouse. Second, we investigate how differences in brain organization relate to differences in their owners' abilities. This includes functional neuroimaging of the human brain to investigate the unique abilities of this species. More detailed information can be found on our research interests page.
The results of our research can be found on our publications page, but we also provide a number of resources for the research community such as brain atlases, brain scans, and a analysis toolbox for comparative MRI data. We also aim to communicate our results to the general public. If you have any questions about our research or are interested in joining the lab, please contact us.
Current funding includes generous contributions from the BBSRC, NWO, the European Commission, and the Donders Centre for Cognition.