Dr David McGonigle


School of Biosciences

Research overview

Studying sensory processing means focusing on the rules and mechanisms that the brain uses to make sense of the world. I use the somatosensory system – the sense of touch – as a gateway to uncover some of the fundamental principles that govern neuronal communication in the human brain. I am particularly interested in the dynamic, plastic nature of sensory processing: how our perceptions are critically dependent on the waxing and waning of millisecond to millisecond changes in brain activity.

Using functional neuroimaging (fMRI, MEG and EEG) and behavioural techniques I focus on three main areas:

  • Where, when and how are tactile stimuli processed in the human brain?
  • The principles underlying short-term changes in perception (adaptation) and longer-term changes (learning)
  • How alterations in sensory processing contribute to brain conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

I have also recently become interested in using brain stimulation to explore these questions, using a novel technique called trans-Cranial Direct Stimulation (tDCS). Finally, I have an active interest in the methods and reliability of non-invasive neuroimaging.

Teaching overview

  • Level 1 Psychology: PS1107 'Introduction to cognitive and biological psychology' FSM
  • Level 3 Psychology PS3209 'Structural and functional neuroimaging'
  • MSc 'Neuroimaging Methods and Applications'

External profiles

Research links