Learning in the Human Brain: Anatomy, Physiology and Computation

Prof. Narender Ramnani (primary)
Department of Psychology
Royal Holloway University of London
Prof. Karl Friston (secondary)
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging


How do decisions translate into movements? How do decision-making and motor control become skilled and automatic? Information cascades through hierarchically organised prefrontal and cortical motor areas as abstract representations are elaborated into detailed motor commands. During skill learning, cerebellar circuits are thought to learn from these areas via the cortico-cerebellar system – one of the largest systems in the brain. The aim of this multidisciplinary PhD is to use state-of the art experimental and computational modelling methods to integrate neuroanatomy, brain activity (fMRI), behaviour and theoretical neurobiology. We will shape this PhD around the skills and interests of the student.


1. N. Ramnani (2006), “The Primate Cortico-Cerebellar System: Anatomy and Function”, Nat Rev Neurosci . 2006 Jul;7(7):511-22. doi: 10.1038/nrn1953.

2. N. Ramnani and A. Owen (2004), “Anterior Prefrontal Cortex: Insights Into Function From Anatomy and Neuroimaging”, Nat Rev Neurosci. 5(3):184-94. doi: 10.1038/nrn1343.

3. K. Friston (2010), “The Free-Energy Principle: A Unified Brain Theory?”, Nat Rev Neurosci. 11(2):127-38. doi: 10.1038/nrn2787.

4. T. Parr and K. Friston (2018), “The Discrete and Continuous Brain: From Decisions to Movement-And Back Again”, Neural Comput. 30(9):2319-2347. doi: 10.1162/neco_a_01102

5. N. Ramnani (2014), “Automatic and Controlled Processing in the Corticocerebellar System”, Prog Brain Res. 210:255-85. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63356-9.00010-8.

Animal disease, health and welfare
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
Image ProcessingSimulation / Modelling