Moataz Assem


I study the precise anatomical and functional organization of domain-general brain regions using mutlimodal MRI techniques of the Human Connectome Project (HCP) and invasive electrophysiology data from human patients.

Domain-general or Multiple-demand (MD) brain regions are co-activated accompanying many tasks and are hypothesised to play a central role in cognitive control and supporting human intelligence. However, the limited spatial localization provided by traditional brain imaging methods precluded a consensus regarding its anatomy and physiology. In my PhD work at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit with John Duncan, I used HCP's high-resolution MRI acquisition and analysis methods to precisely delineate a whole brain MD system, consisting of 9 cortical patches and specific subcortical and cerebellar regions. In my post-doc, I continue to probe how MD regions function under diverse cognitive demands.

Research Focus


cognitive control





Clinical conditions

Cognitive impairment


Electrophysiological recording techniques

Intracranial EEG (electrocorticography ECoG)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Neurosurgical Intraoperative stimulation



John Duncan

Yaara Erez


Evelina Fedorenko Web:

Matthew Glasser

David Van Essen

Associated News Items

Key publications

Assem M, Glasser MF, Van Essen DC, Duncan J (2020), “A Domain-General Cognitive Core Defined in Multimodally Parcellated Human Cortex” Cerebral Cortex 30(8): 4361-4380

Duncan, J., Assem, M. , Shashidhara, S. (2020), “Integrated intelligence from distributed brain activity” Trends in Cognitive Sciences



Assem M, Shashidhara S, Glasser MF, Duncan J (2021), “Precise topology of adjacent domain-general and sensory-biased regions in the human brain” BioRxiv


Assem M, Blank IA, Mineroff Z, Ademoglu A, Fedorenko E (2020), “Activity in the Fronto-Parietal Multiple-demand Network is Robustly Associated with Individual Differences in Working Memory and Fluid Intelligence” Cortex 131:1-16

Erez Y, Assem M, Coelho P, Romero-Garcia R, Owen M, McDonald A, Woodberry E, Morris RC, Price SJ, Suckling J, Duncan J, Hart M, Santarius T. (2020), “Intraoperative mapping of executive function using electrocorticography for patients with low-grade gliomas” Acta Neurochirurgica