Professor Charlotte Stagg

Fellow by Special Election in Neuroscience

Charlotte (Charlie) Stagg is a Fellow by Special Election at St Edmund Hall, Professor of Human Neurophysiology at the University of Oxford, and head of the Physiological Neuroimaging Group at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences (NDCN).

Charlotte (Charlie) Stagg was born and grew up in Surrey. She read physiology and medicine in Bristol, graduating with pre-clinical and clinical honours and the Physiological Society prize. She did her house jobs in North Bristol before moving to work in the old Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford and became a member of the Royal College of Physicians in 2006.

Charlie undertook her DPhil at Lincoln College working with Paul Matthews and Heidi Johansen-Berg, both Fellows of St Edmund Hall, at FMRIB, the MR Imaging Centre within the University of Oxford. She remained at FMRIB, working within the Plasticity Group (headed by Prof. Johansen-Berg) for her post-doctoral work and was the GlaxoSmithKline Junior Research Fellow in Biomedical Imaging at St Edmund Hall from October 2010 to March 2014.

Charlie lives in the Buckinghamshire countryside with her husband, their children and the dog.

Charlie’s primary research interest is in how changing the ease of communication between brain cells (a process known as plasticity) drives the learning of new motor skills in people, especially in the context of relearning skills after a stroke. During her Junior Research Fellowship at St Edmund Hall she explored this question, developing expertise in experimental techniques that have since proved invaluable.

Charlie was awarded a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship in 2014 by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society. This independent award gave her five years of funding to found her own research group studying the mechanisms of human motor plasticity. Her group is based between two world-leading research centres in the University – the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA) and the Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB). They use cutting-edge imaging techniques such as the ultra-high field 7 tesla MR system at FMRIB and Magnetoencephalography (MEG) at OHBA in combination with non-invasive brain stimulation approaches to study motor plasticity, with the ultimate aim of developing new rehabilitation tools to maximize recovery after stroke. She became a Fellow by Special Election at St Edmund Hall in 2014, an Associate Professor at the University in 2015, and was made Professor of Human Neurophysiology in 2018.

Matthew Thompkins discussing perception at a Centre for the Creative Brain event
A talk about perception at a Centre for the Creative Brain event

Charlie is the Chair of St Edmund Hall’s Centre for the Creative Brain, which organises free termly events (aimed at a general audience) intended to inspire interdisciplinary discussion about neuroscience and creativity. In particular, it aims to explore how neuroscience can further our understanding of the aspects of our lives that make us most human, and how insights from art, music, and literature can enrich our understanding of the brain. Follow the Centre on Twitter.

Centre for the Creative Brain website

Charlie gave a short ‘Teddy Talk’ at the 2015 St Edmund Hall Research Expo, aimed at a non-specialist audience.

Non-invasive brain stimulation has been around for thousands of years – from the use of electric fish in Ancient Greece to cure headaches, to the modern use of very small electric currents passed through the brain via two electrodes placed on the scalp. Today, we use stimulation to modulate on-going brain activity, with the ultimate aim of improving hand use after stroke. Here, Charlie discusses a little about how these techniques might work, and how we have started to use them with stroke survivors.

Launch Video

Charlie Stagg giving a talk in the College Chapel at the St Edmund Hall Research Expo

Where next?

Centre for the Creative Brain

View Page


Undergraduate course page

View Subject

Biomedical Sciences

Undergraduate course page

View Subject