Anna C. (Kia) Nobre

University of Oxford

Primary Section: 52, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Secondary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Membership Type: International Member (elected 2020)


Anna Christina (Kia) Nobre is a cognitive neuroscience. She is recognized for her creative research on a breadth of cognitive functions (word recognition, attention, expectation, working memory) using a variety of methods to measure behavior and brain activity (intracranial and scalp electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, positron-emission tomography, functional magnetic-resonance imaging). Her contributions have considerably enriched the understanding or ‘attention’, by showing that it acts dynamically to anticipate the timing of relevant events and that it works closely with different timescales of memory to build on experience to guide adaptive behavior and, in turn, to interact selectively with the contents of memory. Nobre was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she grew up. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States, blending psychology and neuroscience (Williams College, Massachusetts, 1985; Yale University, New Haven, 1993). After a year as Instructor at Harvard Medical School, she moved to Oxford (1994), where she is currently Chair of Translational Cognitive Neuroscience and holds numerous leadership positions. She is a member of the British Academy and of the Academia Europaea in addition of being an international member of the National Academy of Sciences.   

Research Interests

Kia Nobre’s research group is interested in understanding how the brain proactively and dynamically guides human perception and cognition. They launched the field of temporal expectation, demonstrating that the brain extracts and utilizes temporal regularities from the environment (temporal associations, probabilities, sequences, rhythms) to anticipate events and guide adaptive behavior. They further revealed that temporal expectations can modulate various stages of processing and interact with other top-down signals to prepare brain states optimally depending on task parameters and goals. They have played a similar pioneering role in exploring the interaction between attention and memory of different timescales. They contributed new approaches for showing and investigating how long-term memories fuel proactive and dynamic anticipation of likely events. Breaking with standard wisdom, they also revealed that attention continues to operate within the domain of working memory, through continued flexible prioritization and selection of memoranda according to the individual’s changing expectations and goals. They are currently working on ways to explore how selective prioritization and selection may guide long-term memory retrieval. In addition to advancing our understanding of the fundamental building blocks of human cognition, the group probes how the brain systems and mechanisms supporting adaptive cognition change over development and in specific neurological and psychiatric disorders.

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