Allen, M., Smallwood, J., Roepstorff, A., Lutz, A. (2013). The balanced mind: the variability of task-unrelated thoughts predicts error monitoring. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
Allen, M., M. Dietz, K. Blair, M. Van Beek, A. Lutz, P. Vestergaard-Poulsen, G. Rees, & A. Roepstorff (2012). Cognitive-Affective Neural Plasticity following Active-Controlled Mindfulness Intervention. The Journal of Neuroscience. PDF.
Allen, M. & G. Williams (2011). Consciousness, plasticity, and connectomics: the role of intersubjectivity in human cognition. Frontiers in Psychology.
My research primarily investigates the alteration and training of consciousness from neural, philosophical, and psychological perspectives. In general I am interested in interdisciplinary research questions spanning theoretical cognitive science and applied cognitive neuroscience. As an undergraduate in psychology at the University of Central Florida, I conducted honors research on self-pathology and narrative in collaboration with philosopher Shaun Gallagher and the Cognitive Neuroscience of Schizophrenia Laboratory. This work was funded by a joint NSF/ESF grant and awarded honorable mention at the UCF showcase of undergraduate research. As a member of BASIC, I presented the project at European conferences and conducted fMRI research with the Interacting Minds group, simultaneously completing an MA in Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive science at the University of Hertfordshire. The culmination of this work was a thesis synthesizing predictive coding and embodied accounts of agency and action consciousness. In 2009 I joined the Interacting Minds group at Aarhus University to begin doctoral studies investigating neural plasticity and cognitive training.
For this research I worked with Chris Frith, Andreas Roepstorff, and Antoine Lutz on a longitudinal fMRI project investigating the impact of mindfulness-based attention training on neuroplasticity, emotion, and meta-cognition. The first paper from this project was recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience. During my PhD I completed coursework in magnetic resonance imaging, statistical parametric mapping, and FSL at institutes across Europe, including the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior, the University College of London Functional Imaging Laboratory, and the Oxford FMRIB group. In 2011 I received the Mind & Life Institute Varela Award for my work on meta-cognition and neuroplasticity, and the following year I received an Aarhus University travel award for a 6-month visit to University College of London.
On the basis of this grant, in the spring of 2012 I moved to the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, where I currently work with Geraint Rees as a Wellcome Trust Post-Doctoral fellow in the Awareness Lab. My current research focuses on the application of psychophysics, predictive coding, and model-based fMRI to embodied awareness and self-consciousness. The long term goal of this research is the development of novel computational models of embodied awareness and meta-cognition, in order to identify key targets for future intervention and cognitive optimisation. Overall, I enjoy a wide range of research interests and am at home whether presenting research, writing theoretical work, or coding in Matlab. As an aspiring sci-fi author I maintain a healthy addiction to the genre, and am an avid home brewing, southern barbecue, and gaming enthusiast.