Investigating cortical mechanisms of habituation and novelty detection in the developing brain

Prof. Emily Jones (primary)
Psychology/Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development
Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Samuel Cooke (secondary)
Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience
King's College London


Habituation is a pervasive form of learning that acts as a gateway to cognition, adaptatively allocating resources to novel information. Failure of habituation drastically impedes selective attention to meaningful events and wastes energy; however, the mechanisms of habituation remain poorly understood. There is substantial potential for utilizing a translational approach to understanding habituation because it can be elicited without verbal instruction, allowing comparable studies in both preverbal infants and animal models. The student will investigate cortical habituation by comparing electroencephalogram phenomenology in babies with data acquired in mice using invasive and interventional approaches to interrogate underlying mechanism.


Kolesnik, A., Ali, J. B., Gliga, T., Guiraud, J., Charman, T., Johnson, M. H., & Jones, E.J.H. (2019). Increased cortical reactivity to repeated tones at 8 months in infants with later ASD. Translational psychiatry, 9(1),
Begum-Ali, J., … & Jones, E.J.H. (in press, Journal of Neurodevelopmental disorders). Early differences in auditory processing relate to autism spectrum disorder traits in infants with neurofibromatosis type I.
Cooke S.F. & Ramaswami M. (2020) Ignoring the Innocuous: The Neural Mechanisms of Habituation. The Cognitive Neurosciences (textbook): 6th Edition. Chapter 17. P.197-206.
Cooke, S.F., et al., (2015) Visual recognition memory, manifested as long-term habituation, requires synaptic plasticity in V1. Nature Neuroscience. 18(2): p. 262-71.
Dafflon J…..Jones, E.J.H & Leech, R. (2020) Neuroimaging: Into the Multiverse. BioRxiv. doi:

Genes, development and STEM* approaches to biology
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
GeneticsMathematics / StatisticsMicroscopy / Electrophysiology