skip to content

Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


Nadene Dermody


MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, St Catharine's College

PhD thesis: Information processing in the human brain: How does the "multiple-demand" network facilitate cognitive control?

Research interests
1. Cognition
2. Neuroscience
3. Psychology
4. Neurodegenerative diseases


Our world is full of stimuli, all vying for our attention, yet we are able to disregard much of this in favour of information most relevant to achieving our current goal. Even more remarkably, we are able to rapidly adapt the focus of our attention and our behaviour as our goals change. My PhD will investigate the neural basis of flexible cognitive control to help elucidate how our brains direct such complex, adaptive behaviour. More specifically, I will use neuroimaging techniques to examine how and when task-related information is represented and exchanged between brain regions. My aim is to understand the contribution of higher brain regions to our ability to pay attention to aspects of the world, especially how interactions between brain regions support processing of information most relevant to a task. I also hope to apply methods I develop to study how cognitive processes break down in neurodegenerative diseases.


Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

I was initially inspired to pursue my research interests by a neuropsychology course I took during my Honours year. I found it fascinating that damage to different parts of the brain could result in dramatic changes to cognition and behaviour, and that one could use this knowledge to better understand how the brain works – something that I have always been interested in! My current research interests are driven by the potential for contemporary neuroimaging techniques and analysis methods to further our understanding of how our brains facilitate the broad range of complex abilities we are capable of executing so effortlessly.