Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo PhD

Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo

School of Psychology
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Davinia Fernández-Espejo’s main goal is to understand how the brain supports consciousness and what goes wrong for patients to become entirely unaware after severe brain injury. She uses techniques such as MRI (structural and functional), tDCS, and behavioural approaches in both healthy volunteers and patients with a disorder of consciousness to test hypotheses about the role of different brain structures in the clinical deficits they present. This research is directly translated into the development of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers to be used in clinical settings, as well as the development of novel treatment approaches.


PhD in Biomedicine (Universitat de Barcelona)
MSc in Neuroscience (Universitat de Barcelona)


Most recently, Dr Fernández-Espejo has been Module Leader for Applications of Brain Imaging in Cognitive Neuroscience


Recent publications


Coulborn, S, Taylor, C, Naci, L, Owen, AM & Fernández-Espejo, D 2021, 'Disruptions in effective connectivity within and between default mode network and anterior forebrain mesocircuit in prolonged disorders of consciousness', Brain Sciences, vol. 11, no. 6, 749. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060749

Coulborn, S, Bowman, H, Miall, RC & Fernández-Espejo, D 2020, 'Effect of tDCS Over the Right Inferior Parietal Lobule on Mind-Wandering Propensity', Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 14, 230. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2020.00230

Demertzi, A, Tagliazucchi, E, Dehaene, S, Deco, G, Barttfeld, P, Raimondo, F, Martial, C, Fernandez-Espejo, D, Rohaut, B, Voss, H, Schiff, N, Owen, A, Laureys, S, Naccache, L & Sitt, J 2019, 'Human consciousness is supported by dynamic complex patterns of brain signal coordination: distinct brain patterns sustain conscious states', Science Advances, vol. 5, no. 2, eaat7603. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aat7603

Stafford, C, Owen, A & Fernandez-Espejo, D 2019, 'The neural basis of external responsiveness in prolonged disorders of consciousness', NeuroImage: Clinical, vol. 22, 101791. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101791

Cruse, D, Fattizzo, M, Owen, AM & Fernandez-Espejo, D 2017, 'Why use a mirror to assess visual pursuit in prolonged disorders of consciousness? Evidence from healthy control participants', BMC Neurology, vol. 17, 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12883-017-0798-1

Lant, ND, Gonzalez-Lara, LE, Owen, AM & Fernández-Espejo, D 2016, 'Relationship between the anterior forebrain mesocircuit and the default mode network in the structural bases of disorders of consciousness', NeuroImage: Clinical, vol. 10, pp. 27-35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2015.11.004

Gibson, RM, Chennu, S, Fernandez-Espejo, D, Naci, L, Owen, AM & Cruse, D 2016, 'Somatosensory attention identifies both overt and covert awareness in disorders of consciousness', Annals of Neurology, vol. 80, no. 3, pp. 412-423. https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.24726

Fernandez-Espejo, D, Rossit, S & Owen, A 2015, 'A Thalamocortical Mechanism for the Absence of Overt Motor Behavior in Covertly Aware Patients', JAMA Neurology. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.2614

Graham, M, Weijer, C, Peterson, A, Naci, L, Cruse, D, Fernández-Espejo, D, Gonzalez-Lara, L & Owen, AM 2015, 'Acknowledging awareness: informing families of individual research results for patients in the vegetative state', Journal of Medical Ethics, vol. 41, no. 7, pp. 534-8. https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2014-102078


Fernandez-Espejo, D & Owen, AM 2016, 'Peripheral causes of cognitive motor dissociation in patients with vegetative or minimally conscious state - Reply', JAMA Neurology, vol. 73, no. 5, pp. 608-609. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.0143


Gibson, RM, Chennu, S, Fernández-Espejo, D, Naci, L, Owen, AM & Cruse, D 2017, 'Reply to "Is command following unrelated to top-down attention in consciousness disorders?"', Annals of Neurology, vol. 81, no. 1, pp. 160-161. https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.24827

Other contribution

Fernández-Espejo, D, Aloi, D, Rocchetta, AID, Hoad, D, Greenwood, R, Playford, ED & Cruse, D 2020, Exploring the neural, behavioural, and clinical effects of transcranial direct current stimulation in patients with a Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness; protocol for a double-blind randomised crossover feasibility study.. https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-15515/v1


Coulborn, S, Taylor, C, Naci, L, Owen, AM & Fernández-Espejo, D 2021 'Disruptions in effective connectivity within and between default mode network and anterior forebrain mesocircuit in prolonged disorders of consciousness' medRxiv, pp. 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.10.21255204

Aloi, D, Jalali, R, Tilsley, P, Miall, RC & Fernández-Espejo, D 2021 'tDCS modulates effective connectivity during motor command following; a potential therapeutic target for disorders of consciousness' bioRxiv, pp. 1-34. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.09.430392

Review article

Aloi, D, Della Rocchetta, AI, Ditchfield, A, Coulborn, S & Fernández-Espejo, D 2021, 'Therapeutic Use of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in the Rehabilitation of Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness', Frontiers in neurology, vol. 12, 632572. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2021.632572

View all publications in research portal