Dr David McGonigle


Research groups:
Cognitive science
029 208 70353
CUBRIC, Maindy Road

Research summary

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:

i) Where, when and how are tactile stimuli processed in the human brain?

ii) The principles underlying short-term changes in perception (adaptation) and longer-term changes (learning).

iii) 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 summary

Level 1 Psychology: PS1107 ‘Introduction to cognitive and biological psychology’ FSM

Level 3 Psychology PS3209 ‘Structural and functional neuroimaging’

MSc ‘Neuroimaging Methods and Applications’

Selected publications (2014 onwards)


Online publications

Full list of publications



Autism Speaks

Susanne and Bob Wright Trailblazer Award

(2012-2013; Costs $100,000)

NIHR Fellowship
A Pilot Neuroimaging Study of Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
(2010-2015; Costs £154,345)

The Waterloo Foundation
Advanced Neuroimagingin BECTS
(2010-2012; Costs £113,039)

The Waterloo Foundation
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the neurobiology of sensory symptoms
(19/04/10 - 18/04/12; Costs £53, 473)

Travel Grant to Attend IMFAR 2010
(2010; Costs £1550)

Royal Society Research Grant
An Investigation of the Spatiotemporal Integration of Tactile Information in Somatosensory Cortex using Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
(01/04/08-31/03/09; Costs £14,898)