Dr Duncan Astle

University position

Programme Leader

Dr Duncan Astle is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

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Research Themes

Developmental Neuroscience

Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience


Duncan is a Programme Leader at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge.

He is also a Fellow and Director of Studies at Robinson College. Within the School of Clinical Medicine he is the Chair of the NIHR BioResource, and he is the Chair of the University of Cambridge's LGBT+ Staff Network. ?

His 4D Research Group captures a broad programme of developmental cognitive neuroscience. A hallmark of this science has been methodological innovations for understanding neural systems in childhood, how they are linked with developmental disorder, and how they respond to intervention.

This programme of work has been supported by the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council and multiple charitable foundations.

MEG data taken from Barnes et al. (2016) J. Neurosci
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Research Focus







Clinical conditions

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Working memory deficits


Electroencephalography (EEG)

Magnetoencephalography (MEG)



Kate Baker

Sue Gathercole

Joni Holmes

United Kingdom

Kia Nobre Web: http://www.ohba.ox.ac.uk/people/...

Gaia Scerif Web: http://psyweb.psy.ox.ac.uk/abcd/Pe...

Mark Woolrich Web: https://www.ohba.ox.ac.uk/team/ma...

Associated News Items

Key publications

Bathelt, J., Barnes, J., Raymond, F. L., Baker, K., & Astle, D.E. (2017), “Global and local connectivity differences converge with gene expression in a neurodevelopmental disorder of known genetic origin.” Cerebral Cortex 1-12

Barnes, J., Nobre, A.C., Woolrich, M.W., Baker, K., Astle, D.E. (2016), “Training working memory in childhood enhances coupling between fronto-parietal control network and task-related regions.” Journal of Neuroscience 36.34: 9001-9011

Barnes, J., Woolrich, M.W., Baker, K., Astle, D.E. (2016), “The electrophysiological basis of resting-state functional connectivity in childhood” Developmental Science 19(1), 19-31

Astle, D. E., Luckhoo, H., Woolrich, M., Kuo, B. C., Nobre, A. C., & Scerif, G. (2015), “The neural dynamics of fronto-parietal networks in childhood revealed using magnetoencephalography.” Cerebral Cortex 25(10), 3868-3876

Astle, D.E., Barnes, J., Baker, K., Colclough, G., Woolrich, M.W. (2015), “Cognitive training enhances intrinsic brain connectivity in childhood” Journal of Neuroscience 35(16), 6277-6283



Bathelt, J., Johnson, A., Gathercole, S.E. & Astle, D.E. (2017), “Changes in brain morphology and working memory capacity over childhood” Developmental Science


Bathelt, J. Astle, D.E., Barnes, J. Raymond, F.L., Baker, K. (2016), “Structural brain abnormalities in a single gene disorder associated with epilepsy, language impairment and intellectual disability. ” Neuroimage: Clinical 12, 655-665.

Gathercole, S.E., Woolgar, F., Manly, T., Astle, D.E., Kievit, R. Holmes, J., CALM Team (2016), “How common are WM deficits in children with difficulties in reading and mathematics?” Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition 5(4), 384-394

Hawkins, E., Gathercole, S.E., Astle, D.E., Holmes, J. (2016), “Language problems and ADHD symptoms: How specific are the links?” Brain Research 6(4), 50.

Kuo, B-C, Nobre, A.C., Scerif, G. Astle, D.E. (2016), “Top-down activation of spatiotopic sensory codes in perceptual and working-memory search” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 28(7):996-1009

Sarigiannidis, I. Crickmore, G., Astle, D.E. (2016), “Developmental and individual differences in the precision of visuospatial memory” Cognitive Development 39, 1-12


Baker K., Scerif G., Astle D.E., Fletcher P.C., Raymond F.L. (2015), “Psychopathology and cognitive performance in individuals with Membrane-Associated Guanylate Kinase mutations.” Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders 7(1), 8

Baker, K., Astle, D.E., Scerif, G., Smith, J., Moffat, G., Gillard, J., Holton, A., Barnes J.M.M., Baldeweg, T., Raymond, F.L. (2015), “ZDHHC9 mutation is a recurrent cause of rolandic epilepsy, language impairment and hypoplasia of the corpus callosum.” ournal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders 7(1), 8

Hawkins, E., Astle, D.E., & Rastle, K. (2015), “Semantic advantage for learning new phonological form representations” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 27(4), 775-786


Astle DE, Harvey H, Stokes M, Mohseni H, Nobre AC, Scerif G (2014), “Distinct neural mechanisms of individual and developmental differences in VSTM capacity.” Dev Psychobiol 56(4):601-10 Details

Kuo BC, Astle DE (2014), “Neural mechanisms by which attention modulates the comparison of remembered and perceptual representations.” PLoS One 9(1):e86666 Details

Poliakov, E., Stokes, M.G., Woolrich, M.W., Mantini, D., & Astle, D.E. (2014), “Modulation of alpha power at encoding and retrieval tracks the precision of visual short-term memory” Journal of Neurophysiology 09/2014; DOI: 10.1152/jn.00051.2014/

Shimi A, Kuo BC, Astle DE, Nobre AC, Scerif G (2014), “Age group and individual differences in attentional orienting dissociate neural mechanisms of encoding and maintenance in visual STM.” J Cogn Neurosci 26(4):864-77 Details

Shimi, A., Nobre, A.C., Astle, D.E. & Scerif, G. (2014), “Orienting attention within visual short-term memory: development and mechanisms.” Child Development doi: 10.1111/cdev.12150

Shimi, A., Woolrich, M.W., Mantini, D., & Astle, D.E. (2014), “Memory load modulates graded changes in distracter filtering.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:1025


Gosling SG, Astle DE (2013), “Directing spatial attention to locations within remembered and imagined mental representations.” Front Hum Neurosci 7:154 Details

Shimi A, Astle DE (2013), “The strength of attentional biases reduces as visual short-term memory load increases.” J Neurophysiol 110(1):12-8 Details


Murray AM, Nobre AC, Astle DE, Stokes MG (2012), “Lacking control over the trade-off between quality and quantity in visual short-term memory.” PLoS One 7(8):e41223 Details


Astle D, Nixon E, Jackson S, Jackson G (2011), “Neural correlates of changing intention in the human FEF and IPS.” J Neurophysiol Details

Astle DE, Scerif G (2011), “Interactions between attention and visual short-term memory (VSTM): what can be learnt from individual and developmental differences?” Neuropsychologia 49(6):1435-45 Details

Astle DE, Summerfield J, Griffin I, Nobre AC (2011), “Orienting attention to locations in mental representations.” Atten Percept Psychophys Details


Astle DE, Nobre AC, Scerif G (2010), “Attentional control constrains visual short-term memory: Insights from developmental and individual differences.” Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) :1-18 Details

Astle DE, Nobre AC, Scerif G (2010), “Subliminally presented and stored objects capture spatial attention.” J Neurosci 30(10):3567-71 Details

Tunney RJ, Fernie G, Astle DE (2010), “An ERP analysis of recognition and categorization decisions in a prototype-distortion task.” PLoS One 5(4):e10116 Details


Astle DE (2009), “Going from a retinotopic to a spatiotopic coordinate system for spatial attention.” J Neurosci 29(13):3971-3 Details

Astle DE, Jackson GM, Swainson R (2009), “Two measures of task-specific inhibition.” Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) :1-19 Details

Astle DE, Nobre AC, Scerif G (2009), “Applying an attentional set to perceived and remembered features.” PLoS One 4(10):e7613 Details

Astle DE, Scerif G (2009), “Using developmental cognitive neuroscience to study behavioral and attentional control.” Dev Psychobiol 51(2):107-18 Details

Astle DE, Scerif G, Kuo BC, Nobre AC (2009), “Spatial selection of features within perceived and remembered objects.” Front Hum Neurosci 3:6 Details


Astle DE, Jackson GM, Swainson R (2008), “The role of spatial information in advance task-set control: an event-related potential study.” Eur J Neurosci 28(7):1404-18 Details

Astle DE, Jackson GM, Swainson R (2008), “Fractionating the cognitive control required to bring about a change in task: a dense-sensor event-related potential study.” J Cogn Neurosci 20(2):255-67 Details


Astle DE, Jackson GM, Swainson R (2006), “Dissociating neural indices of dynamic cognitive control in advance task-set preparation: an ERP study of task switching.” Brain Res 1125(1):94-103 Details