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Professor Chris Chambers BSc PhD CPsychol FBPsS

Professor Chris Chambers

BSc PhD CPsychol FBPsS

Professor, Head of Brain Stimulation

School of Psychology

Email
chambersc1@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 0331
Campuses
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Comment
Media commentator
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

Research summary

My primary research focuses on the use of brain stimulation (TMS, TES) and brain imaging techniques (fMRI, MRS, MEG) to understand cognitive control, attention and awareness in the human brain. I am particularly interested in translational applications of cognitive neuroscience in the domain of obesity and behaviour change. My group is also working on the simultaneous combination of TMS and MRI, as well as technical advances in TMS methods to improve the precision and reliability of cortical stimulation.

I also pursue interests in the relationship between science and the media, the role of science in shaping evidence-based public policy, and the promotion of open research practices. As part of this work, I co-founded Registered Reports, Exploratory Reports, Verification Reports, the Transparency and Openness Promotion guidelines, the Royal Society Replications initiative, the UK network of open research working groups, the Peer Reviewers' Openness Initiative, the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN), the GW4 Undergraduate Psychology Consortium programme for promoting reproducible science, the Royal Society Rapid Review Network for COVID-19 Registered Reports, and the Peer Community in Registered Reports. I currently chair the Registered Reports committee supported by the Center for Open Science and I serve on the UKRN steering committee. I also sit on the Advisory Board of Nature Human Behaviour and on the British Neuroscience Association's Credibility Advisory Board.

I am author of the Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology: A Manifesto for Reforming the Culture of Scientific Practice, which won the 2018 British Psychological Society Book Award (Best Academic Monograph) and the 2018 PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers. From 2013-2018 I was a freelancer writer at the Guardian where I co-hosted the psychology blog, Head Quarters

You can contribute to our efforts to improve the reliability and openness of science by supporting our Let's Fund crowdfunder initiative

Biography

Undergraduate education

  • Bachelor of Science (Behavioural) with Honours (1st class), Monash University, 1998.

Postgraduate education and qualifications

  • PhD in Experimental Psychology, Monash University, 2002
  • Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), British Psychological Society, 2011.

Employment

  • Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Head of Brain Stimulation, CUBRIC

Previous Appointments

Senior Research Fellow, Head of the CUBRIC Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Group, Cardiff University (2008-2014)
BBSRC David Phillips Fellow, School of Psychology,  Cardiff University (2008-2011)
BBSRC David Phillips Fellow, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London (2006-2008)
NHMRC Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Melbourne, Australia (2004-2006)
NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Melbourne, Australia (2002-2004)

Current Journal Editorships

Section Editor, BMJ Open Science
Section Editor, Cortex
Section Editor, European Journal of Neuroscience
Guest Section Editor, NeuroImage
Section Editor, NeuroImage Reports
Academic Editor, PLOS Biology
Subject Editor, Royal Society Open Science

Invited Lectures

I give dozens of invited talks and keynote lectures per year, primarily on Registered Reports and open research practices. Contact me if you would like me to speak at your event. See here for a selected list of slides from recent talks and workshops. All are free to use under a CC0 creative commons license.

Key External Roles

Steering Group, UK Reproducibility Network (2019-)
Chair, COS Registered Reports committee (2014-)
SMC Advisory Committee (2014-2017)
Credibility Advisory Board, British Neuroscience Association (2018-)
Advisory Board, Nature Human Behaviour (2018-)
Freelance writer and co-host of the Guardian psychology blog, Head quarters (2013-2018)

Declaration of Competing Interests

I receive or have received honoraria for my editorial work at BMJ Open Science, Cortex, European Journal of Neuroscience, NeuroImage: Reports, and Royal Society Open Science and I receive annual book royalties from Princeton University Press for Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology. I also receive or have received occasional honororia/income for grant reviews, academic examining, UKRI mentoring, external teaching/lecturing, prizes/awards, public speaking, freelance science writing, and other media commentary. All non-financial interests, including key external roles, are declared on these pages. Other than where noted in specific publications, I declare no financial or non-financial conflicts of interest in any publications. Where no funding sources are stated in my publications, my contribution to the work was supported by no funding other than that provided by my university employer at the time. This declaration is accurate as of 5 April 2021 and will be updated periodically.

Honours and awards

  • British Psychological Society, 2007 Spearman Medal, British Psychological Society
  • British Psychological Society, 2018 Book Award, Best Academic Monograph: the Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology: A Manifesto for Reforming the Culture of Scientific Practice
  • Association of American Publishers 2018 PROSE Award in Psychology, for the Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology: A Manifesto for Reforming the Culture of Scientific Practice
  • Fellow of the British Psychological Society FBPsS (2011)
  • Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (2018)

Publications

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

Teaching

Current academic teaching

  • MSc in Neuroimaging Methods and Applications (2011-)
  • MSc Psychology (2020-)
  • BSc Psychology: Ad hoc lecture, university placement supervisor and final year project supervisor (2009-)

Professional workshops

  • Since 2006 I have run hundreds of workshops for researchers in two main areas: brain stimulation methods and open research practices (primarily Registered Reports). See here for a selected list of slides from recent talks and workshops. All are free to use under a CC0 creative commons license.

My research addresses questions across a range of fields. Within cognitive neuroscience, I am primarily interested in understanding attention and impulse control, and translational applications in clinical fields such as addiction. I am also interested in metascience, especially research on the effectiveness of open research practices including Registered Reports and related policy initiatives for improving scientific quality.

In 2012 I jointly established the Insciout research group together with Petroc Sumner, Jacky Boivin and Andy Williams. Insciout is a collaborative project between the School of Psychology and the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. Our aim is to identify causes of error in the translation of science to the news, and to develop evidence-based guidelines for best practice in science/media interactions. Some of our key publications in this area can be read here and here.

In 2014 I formed a research team that proposed the formation of the UK Evidence Information Service, a research-led initiative that would facilitate interaction between academia and politicians in the service of evidence-based policy. In 2016 we published the results of the first community-led consultation of UK parliamentarians in this field, which suggest that the proposed service would have high demand among MPs. Our final report on the proposal can be found here.

Funding

Current major grants:

  • Chambers, C.D. European Research Council Consolidator Grant, ‘The psychology and neurobiology of cognitive control training in humans’, 2015-2021 (€1,998,305).
  • Chambers, C.D. Laura and John Arnold Foundation, 'Encouraging Registered Reports', 2020-2023 (£188,679)
  • Chambers, C.D. Registered Reports crowdfunder https://lets-fund.org/better-science/

Previous major grants:

  • Chambers, C.D. & Verbruggen, F.L.J. BBSRC Project Grant (U.K.), ‘Neural dynamics of response inhibition and gambling across the lifespan’, 2013-2016 (£882,321).
  • Chambers, C.D., Verbruggen, F.L.J., Boy, F., Dymond, S. & Lawrence, N. Wellcome Trust ISSF Seedcorn Grant (U.K.), ‘Can GABAergic brain stimulation promote risk aversion in gambling?’, 2013-2015 (£33,572).
  • Verbruggen F.L.J, Chambers, C.D., Lavric, A. & McLaren, I. Economic and Social Research Council (U.K.) ‘Do executive motor-control mechanisms regulate monetary choice and gambling?’, 2012-2015 (£546,626).
  • Bellgrove, M.A., Hester, R., Chambers, C.D., Garavan, H. & Hawi, Z. National Health and Medical Research Council project grant (Australia) ‘Genetic and physiological mechanisms of executive control’, 2011-2014 ($541,048).
  • Chambers, C.D., Singh, K., Wise, R., Jones, D., Jiles, D, & Bestmann, S. Academic Expertise For Business grant (Welsh Assembly) ‘The integrated brain imaging and stimulation project (IBIS)’, 2010-2013 (£349,885).
  • Chambers, C.D. BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship (U.K.), ‘Investigating the neural basis of selective attention in the human brain: A combined neurodisruption and neuroimaging study, 2006-2011 (£421,754).
  • Chambers, C.D. & Driver, J. BBSRC Project Grant (U.K.), ‘Multisensory dynamics of selective attention in the human brain: A combined neurodisruption and neuroimaging project’, 2007-2011 (£403,884).
  • Bellgrove, M.A. & Chambers, C.D. ARC Project Grant (Australia), 'The cognitive neuroscience of executive control: behavioural, physiological and genetic mechanisms’, 2007-2010 ($319,000).

Research topics and related papers

Open Science

Psychology and cognitive neuroscience are in the midst of a credibility revolution that is being advanced through the adoption of practices that boost the transparency of the research process. Since 2014 I have served as chair of the Registered Reports Committee of the Center for Open Science (COS). Registered Reports are a form of empirical article that tackles publication bias and various forms of reporting bias (such as p-hacking and hindsight bias) by conducting peer review before data collection and analysis. I am also a member of the COS Transparency and Openness (TOP) Guidelines committee, which proposes a series of guidelines for academic journals to improve the credibility of published work. In 2015 we published the TOP guidelines in the journal Science, led by COS Executive Director Brian Nosek. I have also worked closely with colleagues to establish the Royal Society Replications initiative, the Exploratory Reports and Verification Reports article types, the UK network of open research working groups, the Peer Reviewers' Openness Initiative, the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN), the GW4 Undergraduate Psychology Consortium programme for promoting reproducible science, and the Royal Society Rapid Review Network for COVID-19 Registered Reports.

Cognitive control

Neural mechanisms of cognitive control enable us to coordinate, execute, and update behaviour. The prefrontal cortex has long been associated with cognitive control but the architecture of the prefrontal system is one of the great unsolved mysteries in cognitive neuroscience. Within the broad field of cognitive control (or ‘executive functions’), our research focuses on understanding the neural basis of response inhibition, response selection, and the link between inhibition and risk-taking (including gambling and eating behaviour), principally through the application of training methods, TMS and TES.

Attention and awareness

Our sensory environment contains a vast quantity of information, only a fraction of which can guide behaviour. Brain mechanisms of attention are crucial for enhancing the processing of stimuli that are relevant to current goals. Within the field of attention, our research focuses on the use of TMS and fMRI to understand the cognitive neuroscience of attentional control and spatial representations. We are also interested in the neurophysiology and neurochemistry that supports consciousness in the occipital and frontal cortex.

Concurrent TMS and MRI

The combination of TMS and neuroimaging (MRI, EEG) provides a unique window on human brain function, with broad applications and implications across the cognitive and clinical neurosciences. By applying TMS within the MRI scanner, we can directly observe the physiological consequences of stimulation both locally (at the site of stimulation) and in remote interconnected brain regions. The integration of TMS and different imaging techniques also holds great promise for revealing the mechanism by which TMS influences neurophysiology and neurovascular coupling.

We previously established concurrent TMS-MRI at CUBRIC via the Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) grant programme, an initiative of the Welsh Assembly Government that funds links between academia and industry in Wales. Our industrial partners on this project were Welsh neuromedical companies Magstim and Dymed. Together we developed passive shim technology that nearly eliminates one major source of interference between TMS and MRI.

TMS methods

The application of TMS in cognitive neuroscience carries a variety of technical and interpretative challenges. As a neurostimulation method, one critical issue is the control of TMS intensity. What strength of TMS is sufficient to yield effective (but not excessive) stimulation of cortical tissue? We have found that the extent of cortical activity during TMS is steeply related to the distance between the scalp and cortex. Even a difference of 1mm in the scalp-cortex distance between different sites can have a measurable and reliable effect on TMS-evoked behaviour. We have therefore developed a scaling method for calibrating the intensity of TMS according to scalp-cortex distance, thus enabling more precise and comparable stimulation of different regions.

The relationship between science and the media - the Insciout project

We are interested in how press releases issued by universities and academic journals influence the reporting of science news in the media. By understanding both positive and negative effects we aim to formulate an evidence-based policy for maximizing the impact and accuracy of science-related public relations. This project is supported by an ESRC transformative grant, the Wellcome Trust, and the British Psychological Society. It also benefits from our close relationship with the Science Media Centre.

Learn more about InSciOut.

The Evidence Information Service

From 2014-2019 we undertook research on the potential value of a new service to facilitate communication between academic researchers and UK politicians and civil servants. The aim of the Evidence Information Service (EIS) would be to act as a rapid matchmaking and advisory service, connecting politicians with experts in academia and industry. The EIS would host a database of scientists who are willing to commit their time voluntarily to help policy makers obtain and interpret the most reliable evidence on specific issues. Such activities will include the provision and explanation of peer-reviewed literature, statistical consulting, and the critical assessment of data or conclusions.

Read the summary of our 2015 national consultation exercise with UK parliamentarians and our final report.

Research group

Since 2008 my team has been made up of staff and students from a wide range  of backgrounds, including physics, neuroscience, and experimental psychology. Current members are listed below.

Postdoctoral fellows:

Dr Chris Allen

Dr Loukia Tzavella

Research assistants:

Dr Mark Randle

Ines Duarte

Alex Morgan

Lab Manager:

Adam Partridge

PhD Students:

Aoife O'Mahony

Ben Meghreblian

Supervision

Postgraduate research interests

I am happy to discuss projects that fall within the scope of:

  • Metascience and open research practices
  • Human cognitive control, including response inhibition, decision-making, and eating behaviour
  • Psychological and neural mechanisms of selective attention and conscious awareness
  • Concurrent brain stimulation and neuroimaging
  • Methodological advances in TMS
  • Evidence-based public policy
  • The relationship between science and the media

Current supervision

Jemma Sedgmond

Research student

Ben Meghreblian

Research student

Aoife O'Mahony

Research student

Past projects

Previous PhD students (UK)