Computational and systems neuroscience

The Neuroscience Institute has a strong track record in the use of computational and systems neuroscience approaches to understand how the brain and nervous system functions. We combine advanced computational, neuroimaging and other state-of-the-art research tools across different scales to investigate the function and dysfunction of the nervous system.

White matter pathways of the human brain revealed by diffusion tensor imaging

Our research includes expertise in developing new methods for acquiring, modelling, synthesising and interpreting neuroscience data. Our pre-clinical neuroimaging research uses a wide range of technologies to visualise brain structure and function. We also use neuroimaging technologies to help us understand complex neurophysiological processes in health and disease, from research looking at individual cells to whole brain behaviour.

Thanks to our dedicated patient groups, our human and clinical neuroimaging research is shedding light on the normal function of the nervous system, addressing key questions in cognitive neuroscience, and investigating the changes that occur in a wide range of brain and sensory diseases. Our expertise in neuroimaging and our world-leading research in modelling neural systems means we are in a strong position to take new discoveries through to clinical treatment.

A key focus of our pre-clinical research is to understand how blood flow is regulated in the brain in both health and disease, which has important implications for stroke and Alzheimer's disease.


Our research groups are aligned to three main areas: pre-clinical neuroimaging, human and clinical neuroimaging and computational and systems neuroscience.

Mouse cerebral cortex with fluorescent dye highlighting vasculature

Pre-clinical neuroimaging

Our pre-clinical neuroimaging research uses a wide range of state-of-the-art technologies to visualise brain structure and function at a level of detail not possible in human subjects or patient populations. Our principal research areas include:

MRI brain scan

Human and clinical neuroimaging

With access to well-characterised clinical populations and a wide range of imaging modalities available, we are shedding light on normal brain function, addressing key questions in cognitive neuroscience, and investigating the changes that occur in a wide range of neurological diseases.

  • Neuroradiology and Clinical MRI – this includes our 3T and 1.5T research MRI systems and a diverse portfoilio of research into CNS disorders including neurodegenerative diseases epilepsy, ataxia and stroke.
  • Polarised Imaging Systems – advanced neuroimaging using hyperpolarised gases, in association with the University of Sheffield Pulmonary MR imaging Group (POLARIS).
  • The EEG Research Group – addresses a wide range of questions in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience using state-of-the-art electroencephalography systems.
  • The Sheffield Autism Research Laboratory (ShARL) – we have an internationally renowned reputation in autism research which incorporates cognitive, psychophysical and EEG research tools.
  • The Developmental Affective Neuroscience Laboratory brings together EEG and fMRI techniques to investigate the development of emotion and emotional regulation in the brain.
  • The Translational Neuropsychology Group conducts research on the neuroscientific, clinical and behavioural aspects of neurodegenerative and neurological disorders.

From the fruit fly brain observatory

Computational and systems neuroscience

The University of Sheffield has a strong track record in the use of computational and systems neuroscience approaches to understand how the brain functions. Our computational neuroscience research includes groups within the Department of Computer Science as well as Sheffield Robotics, a national leader in robotics research. In addition many of our researchers are active members of The INSIGNEO Institute for in silico Medicine, a major cross-disciplinary initiative with the Faculty of Engineering involving academic and clinical staff who collaborate to develop computer simulations of the human body and its disease processes.

Our neuroinformatics research connects to the computational biology, bioinformatics and machine learning strengths under the Translational Neuroscience theme, as well as to the Centre for Computational Imaging & Simulation Technologies in Biomedicine (CISTIB).