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Dr Steve Fleming
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging
12 Queen Square
  • Sir Henry Dale Fellow
  • Imaging Neuroscience
  • UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

I am a Principal Research Associate at the Wellcome Trust Centre for 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), a “Rising Star” designation by the Association of Psychological Science (2015), and the Wiley Prize in Psychology from the British Academy (2016). I am currently Executive Director of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and on the Editorial Board of OUP's journal Neuroscience of Consciousness. 

I am actively involved in public engagement and have given public talks about neuroscience and consciousness both in the UK and the USA. I have written general-interest articles for outlets including Aeon, Scientific American and Psychology Today, and the lab’s work is regularly featured in the mainstream media. 

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. The lab’s research is currently funded by the Wellcome Trust.

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?

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 Consciousness and Metacognition lab at UCLA. This collaboration is supported by a joint R01 from the US National Institutes of Health.

Teaching Summary

I am strongly committed to the teaching and mentoring aspect of academic life. I currently teach lectures on cognitive neuroscience, consciousness and decision-making on the MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience (PALS), MSc in Clinical Neuroscience (IoN), and MSc in Cognitive and Decision Sciences. 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-SEP-2015 Principal Research Associate Wellcome Trust Centre for 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 FHEA ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow – Teaching and Learning in Higher Education University College London
2011 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Cognitive Neuroscience University College London
2006 BA Hons Bachelor of Arts (Honours) – Psychology with Physiology University of Oxford
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