Dr Ian Charest PhD

Dr Ian Charest

School of Psychology
Lecturer in Psychology

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Ian Charest is a cognitive neuroscientist generally interested in investigating high-level visual and auditory representations using neuroimaging techniques such as EEG, MEG and fMRI. He studies the neurobiological bases of individual differences in personality and behavior, with particular interests in human perception, memory, and decision-making. His work is centered on the question of how experience affects how our brains shapes the world we see. He uses a combination of neuroimaging (fMRI), electrophysiological (EEG/MEG) and behavioural methods to understand the neural dynamics of representational idiosyncrasies.




Dr Charest studied Psychology as an Undergraduate student at the University of Montreal (Quebec). In 2009, he finished his PhD on the neural mechanisms underlying voice and voice gender perception (supervised by Professor Pascal Belin). From 2010-2015, he completed a career development fellowship at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (MRC-CBSU), where he used neuroimaging to explore individual differences in brain representations of objects (together with Dr Nikolaus Kriegeskorte). The methods that he devised in this collaboration lead to studying idiosyncrasies in clinical populations. Together with Dr Kriegeskorte, he continued this work on representational idiosyncrasies, exploring visual object representations in the brains of volunteers with an Autism Spectrum Condition (in collaboration with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen). He joined the School of Psychology as a Lecturer in the summer of 2015.


Most recently, Dr Charest has taught an undergraduate module on the subject of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Charest welcomes applications from talented and enthusiastic students who are interested in studying object representations in humans, and their underlying neurocognitive mechanisms. Applicants should have a research-oriented background in cognitive neuroscience, experimental psychology, computer science, or computational modeling. The lab has access to a wide range of research facilities, including a 3T MRI scanner, EEG systems and behavioural testing equipment. For informal enquiries about PhD and Masters projects please email i.charest@bham.ac.uk.


Dr Charest is generally interested in investigating high-level visual and auditory representations using neuroimaging techniques such as EEG, MEG and fMRI. He studies the neurobiological bases of individual differences in personality and behaviour, which might be reflected in cognitive-level object representations in temporal and frontal regions. Recently, he investigated how particular objects are represented in individual brains. Together with Dr Nikolaus Kriegeskorte at the MRC-CBSU, he developed the methodology for relating individual differences at the behavioural level to individual brain representations of mental content in cortical activity patterns. He showed that each person viewing a set of objects represents the objects uniquely in his or her brain. Moreover, given an individual’s measured brain-activity patterns, idiosyncrasies in his or her perception of the similarities among the objects can be predicted. Prediction accuracy is modest using current technology. However, these results demonstrate that fMRI has the power to reveal individually unique representations of particular objects in the human brain. The novel method might help us understand the biological substrate of individual experience in mental health and disease. Dr Charest also uses computational modelling and neuroimaging data to predict choice response times from psychophysical experiments. Using Deep Convolutional Neuronal Networks, state-of-the-art object recognition models can be related to human behaviour.


The brain of the beholder: honouring individual representational idiosyncrasies
Ian Charest, Nikolaus Kriegeskorte
Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, (2015) 

Retrieval induces adaptive forgetting of competing memories via cortical pattern suppression.
Maria Wimber, Arjen Alink, Ian Charest, Nikolaus Kriegeskorte, Michael C Anderson
Nature neuroscience, (2015) 

The Human Voice Areas: spatial organisation and inter-individual variability in temporal and extra-temporal cortices.
Cyril R Pernet, Phil McAleer, Marianne Latinus, Krzysztof J Gorgolewski, Ian Charest, Patricia E G Bestelmeyer, et al.
NeuroImage, (2015) 

Unique semantic space in the brain of each beholder predicts perceived similarity
I. Charest, R. A. Kievit, T. W. Schmitz, D. Deca, N. Kriegeskorte
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume: 111, Issue: 40 (2014) 

Automatic domain-general processing of sound source identity in the left posterior middle frontal gyrus
Bruno L. Giordano, Cyril Pernet, Ian Charest, Guylaine Belizaire, Robert J. Zatorre, Pascal Belin
Cortex, Volume: 58 (2014) 

Binge drinking influences the cerebral processing of vocal affective bursts in young adults
Pierre Maurage, Patricia E G Bestelmeyer, Julien Rouger, Ian Charest, Pascal Belin
NeuroImage: Clinical, Volume: 3 (2013) 

Impaired emotional facial expression decoding in alcoholism is also present for emotional prosody and body postures
Pierre Maurage, Salvatore Campanella, Pierre Philippot, Ian Charest, Sophie Martin, Philippe De Timary
Alcohol and Alcoholism, Volume: 44 (2009) 

People-selectivity, audiovisual integration and heteromodality in the superior temporal sulcus
Rebecca Watson, Marianne Latinus, Ian Charest, Frances Crabbe, Pascal Belin
Cortex, (2013) 

Cerebral processing of voice gender studied using a continuous carryover FMRI design
Ian Charest, Cyril Pernet, Marianne Latinus, Frances Crabbe, Pascal Belin
Cerebral Cortex, Volume: 23 (2013) 

Vocal Attractiveness Increases by Averaging
Laetitia Bruckert, Patricia Bestelmeyer, Marianne Latinus, Julien Rouger, Ian Charest, Guillaume A. Rousselet, et al.
Current Biology, Volume: 20 (2010) 

Electrophysiological evidence for an early processing of human voices.
Ian Charest, Cyril R Pernet, Guillaume A Rousselet, Ileana Quiñones, Marianne Latinus, Sarah Fillion-Bilodeau, et al.
BMC neuroscience, Volume: 10 (2009) 

Human cerebral response to animal affective vocalizations.
Pascal Belin, Shirley Fecteau, Ian Charest, Nicholas Nicastro, Marc D Hauser, Jorge L Armony
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, Volume: 275 (2008)

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