Caroline Lea Carnall

I am an MRC Research Fellow based at the University of Manchester. My current research is focussed on  understanding mechanisms of plasticity in the human somatosensory cortex. My research combines experimental work involving non-invasive brain stimulation with psychophysics testing and mathematical modelling. I am particularly interested in the dynamics of cortical networks in both healthy and diseased brains and have successfully applied a combination of quantitative mathematical modelling techniques and neuroimaging data to further our understanding in this field.

My work uses a combination of EEG, fMRI and MR spectroscopy to measure changes in neural dynamics in response to stimuli such as tACS or repetitive tactile stimulation. At the same time, I am developing mathematical models to try to explain the biochemical mechanisms that underpin plasticity in response to stimulation. The models are used to make predictions which are, in turn, testable experimentally. Ultimately, it is hoped that modelling work of this kind will optimise non-invasive brain stimulation and aid both clinicians and researchers working in this field.


  • Lea-Carnall CA*, El-Deredy W, Williams SR, Stagg CJ, & Trujillo-Baretto NJ (2021). From synaptic activity to human in vivo quantification of neurotransmitter dynamics: a neural modelling approach. Bioarxiv doi: 10.1101/2021.03.11.434540.

Published abstract

  • Lea-Carnall* (2021). Frequency-dependent Plasticity. Int J Psychophys, 168:S56


  • ‘Using in silico models to bridge the gap between synaptic activity and human in vivo quantification of neurotransmitter dynamics’, The Physiological society (November 2021).
  • ‘Frequency Dependent Neural Entrainment: From Mechanisms to Applications’, 20th World Congress of Psychophysiology (Sept 2021).
  • ‘(f)MRS as a tool to probe cognitive function’, GABA GABBER, international symposium on MRS sponsored by The Royal Society (Jan 2021).
  • ‘A mean-field model of neurotransmitter dynamics’ Quantative Life Sciences Group, International Centre for Theoretical Physics (Italy Nov 2020).

New PhD student

  • Polina Emilyanova (2020-2024) funded by the MRC. Polina’s work will be understanding the biophysical basis of functional Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy measurements in the human brain.