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Dr Steve Fleming
Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging
12 Queen Square
Dr Steve Fleming profile picture
  • Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

I am a Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the Department of Experimental Psychology and Principal Investigator at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging where I lead the Metacognition Group. The group’s research focuses on the mechanisms supporting conscious awareness and metacognition in the adult human brain. 


I received a first class BA in Psychology and Physiology at Oxford University (2003-2006) before completing a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL under the supervision of Ray Dolan and Chris Frith, investigating conscious awareness in perceptual decision-making (2006-2011). I was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship to study with Nathaniel Daw at New York University and Matthew Rushworth at Oxford (2011-2015), building computational models of self-monitoring. In 2006 I received the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Award and the Gibbs Prize in Psychology, Physiology and Philosophy from the University of Oxford. Since then my research has been recognized with the William James Prize from the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (2012), the Wiley Prize in Psychology from the British Academy (2016), a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Psychology (2017) and the BPS Spearman Medal (2019). I was Executive Director of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness from 2015-2020, and currently Editor at Mind & Language and Neuroscience of Consciousness.

I am actively involved in public engagement and have written general-interest articles for outlets including Aeon, New Scientist and Scientific American.

Research Groups
Research Summary

The core question that drives most of what we do in the lab is: how does the human brain become self-aware? Studying metacognition provides a useful framework for answering this question. Just as the study of the visual system relies on building and testing models of how people perceive the outside world, we use similar tools (psychophysics, computational modelling, neuroimaging) to understand how people self-reflect and and monitor their cognition and behaviour.


Core questions we are interested in include: which neural substrates support metacognition? Does metacognition rely on common or distinct mechanisms across different domains, such as perception and memory? How do "local" fluctuations in metacognitive estimates relate to "global" variables such as self-esteem and anxiety? Is metacognition disrupted in mental health, and can we develop techniques and approaches to restore or improve metacognition? What's the use of self-reflection, and how does it aid self-control? How does metacognition contribute to conscious awareness?


The lab's work is funded by the Wellcome Trust. Many of these studies we also do in close collaboration with Hakwan Lau, who runs the Laboratory for Consciousness at the Riken Center for Brain Science.

Teaching Summary

I am strongly committed to the teaching and mentoring aspect of academic life. I currently co-teach the 3rd year module PSYC0032 “Brain in Action” (with Patrick Haggard). I also lecture on various other BSc and MSc courses in UCL, and supervise BSc and MSc research projects. In addition, we regularly host project students in my lab at all levels of study, and I am focused on providing effective mentoring to graduate students and postdocs.

01-JAN-2020 Group Leader Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry University College London, United Kingdom
01-JAN-2020 – 31-MAY-2023 Sir Henry Dale Fellow Department of Experimental Psychology University College London, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2015 Principal Investigator Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging UCL, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2011 – 31-AUG-2015 Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Experimental Psychology University of Oxford, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2010 – 31-AUG-2015 Visiting Research Fellow Center for Neural Sciences New York University, United States
Academic Background
2017   ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow University College London
2011   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
2006   Bachelor of Arts (Honours) University of Oxford
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