Dr Karen Mullinger PhD

Dr Karen Mullinger

School of Psychology
Joint Nottingham and Birmingham Associate Professor

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Mullinger is an expert in simultaneous EEG-fMRI. She focuses on understanding the sources of the EEG artefacts and how to reduce them at source. Using the best EEG-fMRI techniques available she investigates neurovascular coupling to better understand brain function.

See Dr Mullinger's Nottingham profile


  • PhD (2005-2008) Physics and Astronomy
  • BSc (2001-2004) Physics with Medical Physics
    Degree Classification: First Class with Honours


Dr Mullinger has gained unique and wide-ranging experience in the development and application of simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) over the past 7 years whilst working with the first MR-compatible EEG system (from Brain Products, Germany) at the SPMMRC, Nottingham. This has involved collaboration with academic and industrial research leaders (e.g. Brain Products and Philips Medical Systems).

Dr Mullinger undertook a BSc in Physics with Medical Physics at the Univeristy of Nottingham and went on to complete her PhD at the Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Centre, Univeristy of Nottingham. Her PhD addressed many aspects of simultaneous EEG-fMRI recordings including: improving EEG artefact correction, reducing artefacts at ultra-high field to make simultaneous recordings feasible, and identifying the major sources of MR image distortion due to EEG hardware. Subsequently, as a Sir Peter Mansfield Research Fellow and Anne McLaren Research Fellow, she has played a leading role in research aimed at understanding the origins of the gradient and pulse artefacts in EEG data, as well as in the development of beamformer techniques for localising EEG sources in EEG-fMRI experiments. She has established a number of collaborations with academic and industrial research leaders.

The success of her work is reflected not only in her publication record, but also in three personal invitations to contribute book chapters. Additionally she has been invited to speak at several international conferences. The importance of her contribution in advancing EEG-fMRI research was recognised by the recent award of the prestigious International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine Junior Fellowship (May, 2011).

She has recently taken a joint Lecturer post between the University of Birmingham (Psychology) and the University of Nottingham (Physics). She will use this unique post to develop her research interests and facilitate collaborations between the universities.

Postgraduate supervision

Currently she supervises a number of postgraduates at the University of Nottingham.

If you would like to contact her about her research and supervision please email or call her.


Research interests

Dr Mullinger’s research interests are focused on simultaneous EEG-fMRI. Combing these two techniques is highly desirable since they provide complementary information regarding brain function. She is interested in both the technical aspects of combining these two techniques as well as using them to investigate neurovascular coupling to gain a better understanding of brain function.

Technical aspects of EEG-fMRI

Performing EEG and fMRI together is very challenging as the MRI environment is extremely hostile for measuring small electrical signals from neurons using EEG. Whilst simultaneous EEG-fMRI has been available as a research tool for over a decade there are still significant limitations in the areas of brain function which can be researched with this neuroimaging tool due to the artefacts in the EEG signals. Dr Mullinger therefore investigates the sources of these artefacts. She uses this knowledge to develop methods to reduce the problematic artefacts through better experimental set-up and new EEG hardware design.

Neurovascular Coupling

BOLD fMRI is non-invaisive and is the most widely used technique to study brain function in humans. However, the BOLD signal is caused by an interaction of changes in blood flow, volume and oxygenation related to changes in neuronal activity. As a result this complex single is often difficult to interpret and the origins of changes in the BOLD signal can be unclear. Dr Mullinger uses simultaneous EEG-fMRI to measure EEG, BOLD and blood flow changes related to a stimulus to interrogate the origin of aspects of the BOLD response which are currently poorly understood. Dr Mullinger believes a better understanding of the BOLD signal this will open new avenues of research into brain function in health and disease.


Recent publications


Coleman, SC, Seedat, ZA, Pakenham, DO, Quinn, AJ, Brookes, MJ, Woolrich, MW & Mullinger, KJ 2024, 'Post‐task responses following working memory and movement are driven by transient spectral bursts with similar characteristics', Human Brain Mapping, vol. 45, no. 7, e26700. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.26700

Coleman, S, Seedat, ZA, Whittaker, AC, Lenartowicz, A & Mullinger, K 2023, 'Beyond the Beta Rebound: Post-Task Responses in Oscillatory Activity follow Cessation of Working Memory Processes', NeuroImage, vol. 265, 119801. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.119801

Seedat, ZA, Rier, L, Gascoyne, LE, Cook, H, Woolrich, MW, Quinn, AJ, Roberts, TPL, Furlong, PL, Armstrong, C, St Pier, K, Mullinger, KJ, Marsh, ED, Brookes, MJ & Gaetz, W 2023, 'Mapping Interictal activity in epilepsy using a hidden Markov model: a magnetoencephalography study', Human Brain Mapping, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 66-81. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.26118

Rhodes, N, Rea, M, Boto, E, Rier, L, Shah, V, Hill, RM, Osborne, J, Doyle, C, Holmes, N, Coleman, SC, Mullinger, K, Bowtell, R & Brookes, MJ 2023, 'Measurement of Frontal Midline Theta Oscillations Using OPM-MEG', NeuroImage, vol. 271, 120024. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2023.120024

Mayhew, S, Coleman, S, Mullinger, K & Can, C 2022, 'Across the adult lifespan the ipsilateral sensorimotor cortex negative BOLD response exhibits decreases in magnitude and spatial extent suggesting declining inhibitory control', NeuroImage, vol. 253, 119081. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.119081

Burley, C, Francis, S, Thomas, KN, Whittaker, A, Lucas, S & Mullinger, K 2021, 'Contrasting measures of cerebrovascular reactivity between MRI and Doppler: a cross-sectional study of younger and older healthy individuals', Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 12, 656746. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.656746

Burley, C, Francis, S, Whittaker, A, Mullinger, K & Lucas, S 2021, 'Measuring resting cerebral haemodynamics using MRI arterial spin labelling and transcranial Doppler ultrasound: comparison in younger and older adults', Brain and Behavior, vol. 11, no. 7, e02126. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.2126

Pakenham, DO, Quinn, AJ, Fry, A, Francis, ST, Woolrich, MW, Brookes, MJ & Mullinger, KJ 2020, 'Post-stimulus beta responses are modulated by task duration', NeuroImage, vol. 206, 116288. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116288

Burley, C, Lucas, B, Whittaker, A, Mullinger, K & Lucas, S 2020, 'The CO2-stimulus duration and steady-state time-point used for data extraction alters the cerebrovascular reactivity outcome measure', Experimental Physiology, vol. 105, no. 5, pp. 893-903. https://doi.org/10.1113/EP087883

Seedat, ZA, Quinn, AJ, Vidaurre, D, Liuzzi, L, Gascoyne, LE, Hunt, BAE, O'Neill, GC, Pakenham, DO, Mullinger, KJ, Morris, PG, Woolrich, MW & Brookes, MJ 2020, 'The role of transient spectral ‘bursts’ in functional connectivity: a magnetoencephalography study', NeuroImage, vol. 209, 116537. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116537

Aquino, K, Sokoliuk, R, Pakenham, D, Sanchez-Panchuelo, R, Hanslmayr, S, Mayhew, S, Mullinger, K & Francis, S 2019, 'Addressing challenges of high spatial resolution UHF fMRI for group analysis of higher-order cognitive tasks: An inter-sensory task directing attention between visual and somatosensory domains.', Human Brain Mapping, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 1298-1316. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.24450

Wilson, R, Mullinger, K, Francis, S & Mayhew, S 2019, 'The relationship between negative BOLD responses and ERS and ERD of alpha/beta oscillations in visual and motor cortex', NeuroImage, vol. 199, pp. 635-650. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.06.009

Sokoliuk, R, Mayhew, S, Aquino, K, Wilson, R, Brookes, MJ, Francis, S, Hanslmayr, S & Mullinger, K 2019, 'Two spatially distinct posterior alpha sources fulfill different functional roles in attention', The Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 39, no. 36, pp. 7183-7194. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1993-18.2019

Uji, M, Wilson, R, Francis, S, Mullinger, K & Mayhew, S 2018, 'Exploring the advantages of multiband fMRI with simultaneous EEG to investigate coupling between gamma frequency neural activity and the BOLD response in humans', Human Brain Mapping, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 1673-1687. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23943

Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Burley, C, Mullinger, K, Thomas, KN, Rendeiro, C, Dehghani, H & Lucas, S 2021, Imaging cerebral blood flow for brain health measurement. in SD Sala (ed.), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience: Second Edition. vol. 1, Elsevier, pp. 126-135. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-819641-0.00157-2

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