Neuroscience at Nottingham

Image of Ian Devonshire

Ian Devonshire

Chief Scientific Officer, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



Ian Devonshire is a neuroscientist, author and science communicator and is currently the Chief Scientific Officer in the Bio-Support Unit. He is also an Associate Lecturer in Neuroscience & Mental Health at the Open University and is a Chartered Scientist (CSci) registered with the Royal Society of Biology.

Ian became interested in the workings of the human brain from a young age and enrolled onto one of the very first Neuroscience degree courses offered in the UK, at Sheffield University's Department of Biomedical Sciences. He then moved to the Department of Psychology in Sheffield to complete a doctorate in pre-clinical neuroimaging in which he applied state-of-the-art brain scanning techniques to the study of drug addiction, whilst also trying to understand more about the benefits and limitations of brain imaging.

His research interests broadened with a move to the University of Oxford when he started applying his neuroscientific knowledge to the classroom, being particularly interested in how young people's intrinsic motivation to learn is a key factor for academic success and how the belief that one's own ability does not match up with what is required can be highly de-motivating. Based at the Institute for the Future of the Mind, Ian studied pupils' attitudes to learning and whether we can use what we know about brain plasticity to change these attitudes. The relevance of this new style of research, in which neuroscience and psychology meet education, is being increasingly recognised by scientists, policy makers and educationalists. Fascinated by this new field, Ian spent time working to bring these disparate groups together as co-ordinator of a Parliamentary Group in the House of Lords tasked to debate Scientific Research in Learning and Education. Whilst at Oxford, such applied research was balanced with a number of concurrent, laboratory-based projects including investigating the impact of environmental enrichment on brain structure and sensory function, visualising dynamic cerebral cortical activity using voltage-sensitive dye imaging, measuring how general anaesthesia influences global measures of brain function, and both designing and developing physiological measurement tools to aid monitoring of animals while under anaesthesia in veterinary practice and scientific studies.

Ian moved to Nottingham in 2011 to become a Research Fellow in the Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre and Laboratory of Developmental Nociception and, before taking up the role of NTCO in 2016, explored the development and functional anatomy of brain areas involved in the perception of pain. In Nottingham he also sits on the University's Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB) and is Chair of the committee for the Pre-Clinical Imaging Research Accelerator Fund; he is also Chair of the Universities' Training Group, a national body responsible for setting the standards for Home Office personal license training courses.

In addition to research and policy work, Ian is also very passionate about science outreach and regularly visits schools and colleges with a suitcase full of brains; to date he has delivered over a hundred talks, seminars and workshops on various topics in neuroscience to schoolchildren and the general public. Ian sits on the Education committee of the British Science Association, is a Review Editor for the journal Frontiers in Education, and has co-authored two books about neuroscience for school teachers: The Learning and the Brain Pocketbook (2011, Teachers Pocketbooks), which was nominated for two awards at the Education Resource Awards 2012, and Neuroscience for Teachers (2017, Crown House). He is a member of The British Psychological Society (MBPsS), Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA); between 2008 and 2012 Ian served as a Director of Fenton Mark Consultancy Ltd.


Click here to find out more about 'Neuroscience for Teachers' published by Crown House

"It is likely to become the definitive text on this topic for teachers." ~ Prof Ian Menter, University of Oxford

"I wish this book had existed when I was teaching! A wonderfully easy read, arming teachers with the most up-to-date research about learning from the fields of neuroscience and psychology." ~ Dr Lia Commissar, Wellcome Trust

"An intuitive and informative walk through the evidence that will satisfy both novice and expert alike. It will change the way you teach; for educators, I'd do more than recommend this, I'd make it mandatory to their professional learning." ~ Rachael Edgar, Latifa School, Dubai

Click here to find out more about 'Learning and the Brain' published by Teachers' Pocketbooks

Click here to read Ian's article in PLoS Biology on ways to overcome barriers to greater public engagement

Expertise Summary

In vivo and in vitro electrophysiology

Voltage-sensitive dye imaging

Transcranial 2D optical imaging of intrinsic brain signals

Functional magnetic resonance imaging

Laser-Doppler flowmetry

Signal and image processing

Behavioural neuroscience

Educational neuroscience

Neuroscience at Nottingham

The University of Nottingham
Address line two
Nottingham, postcode

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