Jessica McFadyen

Jessica McFadyen

Cognitive Neuroscientist


research interests

Jessica is a postdoctoral researcher in cognitive neuroscience at the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research. She uses human neuroimaging (fMRI, M/EEG, and diffusion MRI) and behavioural modelling to investigate the neural underpinnings of emotion perception and decision-making. Jessica’s main theoretical focus is on how different networks in the hierarchical brain interact to produce behaviour, specifically on the relatively unknown role of subcortical areas and their influence on the cortex.


After graduating from secondary school with the highest possible outcome (an Overall Position 1 in Queensland, Australia), Jessica embarked on a Bachelor of Psychological Science at the University of Queensland. Here, she satisfied her interests in both science and the humanities. For her honours year, Jessica was supervised by Professor Ross Cunnington and completed a thesis on the neural correlates of caricatured faces on empathy for pain. She graduated with first class honours and also co-authored three publications within the lab.

Jessica then went on to complete at PhD at the Queensland Brain Institute, under the supervision of Dr Marta Garrido and Professor Mattingley. Here, Jessica was exposed to a vast array of cognitive neuroscience research topics, including attention, perception, translational psychiatry, and computational neuroscience. She learnt many different neuroimaging analysis techniques for M/EEG, fMRI, and diffusion MRI, as well as computational modelling of neuroimaging data and behaviour. Throughout her PhD, Jessica forged a publication record in the fields of emotion processing, visual perception, and modelling of neural networks and behaviour.

Jessica briefly worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Queensland Brain Institute, working on a number of different projects investigating memory using either fMRI, EEG, and virtual reality. Jessica has now relocated to London, United Kingdom to work as a research fellow with Professor Ray Dolan at the Max Plank UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research. Here, she is investigating the neural underpinnings and computational explanations of rapid, threat-based decision making in anxiety.

Jessica is also an avid musician. She plays the trumpet, ukulele, and piano in genres including ska, folk, reggae, jazz, and funk. Music is partly what inspired her to research the wonders of a human brain.