Sarah Lloyd-Fox

Research Fellow

Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development
The Henry Wellcome Building
Birkbeck, University of London
London, WC1E 7HX

Phone: +44 (0)20 7079 0764
Fax: +44 (0)20 7631 6587
Email: at bbk dot ac dot uk


Research interests

I am interested in studying how infants' cognitive abilities develop over the first year of life. I primarily use a neuroimaging technique known as functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and have pioneered its use with infants over the last ten years. Specifically my work focuses on the investigation of cortical responses to social cues and the application of fNIRS to the study of compromised development. The latter includes the study of infants at risk for autism, and recent work taking fNIRS to rural Africa to study undernutrition.

I am also pursuing technical advances in the use of fNIRS with infants to improve the precision and reliability of cortical measurements.

Please see a link to our NIRS CBCD headgear which are available to purchase alongside the UCL-NIRS System, as well as details of our annual BBK-UCL NIRS workshop.


Curriculum Vitae

Affiliated lecturer, University of Cambridge, 2017 - present 

Editorial Board Member, Nature Scientific Reports, 2015 - present

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London (FTE 0.8%), 2011 – present

Visiting Research Fellow, Central European University, Hungary, 2011.

PhD Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, 2007 – 2011 (part-time).


Laura Pirazzoli, PhD Candidate, Birkbeck, University of London, 2014 - present

Laura Kischkel, PhD Candidate, University College London, 2015 - present

Maheen Siddiqui, PhD Candidate, Birkbeck, University of London, 2015 - present.

Christine Bartram, PhD Candidate, Warwick University, 2014 - present.

Past Students

Maria Laura Fillipetti, PhD Candidate, Birkbeck, University of London, 2011 - 2015

Yoko Hakuno, MSc Candidate, Birkbeck, University of London, 2014

Mine Oguz, MSc Candidate, Birkbeck, University of London, 2014.


Media and Public Engagement

BBC Online: The secret world of babies. (posted 28th March 2018).

Babybrains – Early Development Matters. Globally. (posted 2nd February 2018).Interviewed for a science blog on infancy and parenting.

SciDevNet – Brain Imaging tool seeks signs of infant malnutrition (posted December 14th 2015).
Science and technology news for global development.

Understanding malnourishment (posted 14th September 2015). Article in The Psychologist profiling my role
as the lead psychologist in the BRIGHT study.

BBC World News Horizons 4, Episode 16 – The Brain (aired November 23rd, 2014). TwoFour Productions. In this TV documentary we are featured discussing our new research using fNIRS in a global health setting in rural Gambia to investigate under nutrition.

BBC Horizon – Living with autism (aired 1st April 2014) A documentary presented by autism expert Prof. Uta Frith and featuring the work we do at the Babylab to coincide with World Autism day.

BBC Worldservice Healthcheck - Babies’ Minds: The Truth about Life and Death (aired 13th July 2014). In this radio show we are featured discussing our new research using fNIRS in a global health setting in rural Gambia to investigate under nutrition.

UCL Engineering - Seeing signs of autism in infrared. (2013) In this short film we discuss the use of fNIRS in our research in the British Autism Study of Infant Siblings project.



Copies of articles can be found on my Research Gate profile

Peer reviewed journal articles

in press

Hakuno, Y., Pirazzoli, L., Blasi., A., Johnson, M.H. Lloyd-Fox, S. (in press) Optical imaging during toddlerhood: brain responses during naturalistic social interactions. Neurophotonics. 5(1), 011020.

Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi., A., Pasco, G., Gliga, T., Jones, E.J.H., Murphy, D.G.M., Elwell, C.E., Charman, T. & Johnson, M.H. and The BASIS Team (in press) Cortical responses before six months of life associate with later autism. European Journal of Neuroscience. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13757

Braukmann, R., Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi, A., Johnson, M.H., Bekkering, H., Buitelaar, J.K. & Hunnius, S. (in press) Diminished socially selective neural processing in 5-month-old infants at high familial risk for autism. European Journal of Neuroscience. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13751


Siddiqui, M.F., Lloyd-Fox, S., Kaynezhad, P., Tachtsidis, I., Johnson, M.H. & Elwell, C.E. (2017) Non-invasive measurement of a metabolic marker of infant brain function. Nature Scientific Reports, 7, 1330:1-6. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01394-z

Lloyd-Fox, S., Begus, K., Halliday, D., Pirazzoli, L., Blasi, A., Papademetriou, M., Darboe, M.K., Prentice, A.M., Johnson, M.H., Moore, S.E., & Elwell, C.E. (2017) Cortical specialisation to social stimuli from the first days to the second year of life: A rural Gambian cohort. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 25, 92-104.

Sethna, V., Inês Pote, I., Wang, S., Gudbrandsen, M., Blasi, A., McCusker, C., Daly, E., Perry, E., Adams, K.P.H., Kuklisova-Murgasova, M.,  Busuulwa, P., Lloyd-Fox, S., Murray, L., Johnson, M.H. Williams, S.C.R., Murphy, D.G.M., Craig, M.C. & McAlonan, G.M. (2017) Mother-infant interactions and regional brain volumes in infancy: an MRI study. Brain Structure and Function. 222, 2379-2388.


Begus, K., Lloyd-Fox, S., Halliday, D., Papademetriou, M., Darboe, M.K., Prentice, A.M., Moore, S.E. & Elwell, C.E. (2016) Using fNIRS to study working memory of infants in rural Africa. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 876, 273-279.


Blasi, A., Lloyd-Fox, S., Sethna, V., Brammer, M., Mercure, E., Murray, L., Williams, S., Simmons, A., Murphy, D.G., & Johnson, M.H. (2015) Atypical processing of voice sounds in infants at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cortex, 71, 122-133.

Lloyd-Fox, S., Széplaki-Köllőd, B., Yin, J. & Csibra, G. (in press) Are you talking to me? Neural activations in 6-month-old infants in response to being addressed during natural interactions. Cortex, 70, 35-48.

Filippetti, M.L., Lloyd-Fox, S., Longo, M. R.,  Farroni, T. & Johnson, M.H. (in press) Neural Mechanisms of Body Awareness in Infants. Cerebral Cortex. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu261

Begus, K., Lloyd-Fox, S., Halliday, D., Papademetriou, M., Darboe, M.K., Prentice, A.M., Moore, S.E. & Elwell, C.E. (in press) Using fNIRS to study working memory of infants in rural Africa. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology.

Lloyd-Fox, S., Wu, R., Richards, J.E., Elwell, C.E. & Johnson, M.H. (2015) Cortical Activation to Action Perception is associated with action production abilities in young infants. Cerebral Cortex, 25(2), 289-297.


Lloyd-Fox, S., Richards, J.E., Blasi, A., Murphy, D.G.M., Elwell, C.E. & Johnson, M.H. (2014) Co-registering fNIRS with underlying cortical areas in infants. Neurophotonics. 1(2), 025006.

Lloyd-Fox, S.*, Blasi, A., Elwell, C.E. & Johnson, M.H. (2014) Test-retest reliability of fNIRS in infants. Neurophotonics. 1(2), 025005.   (* Lloyd-Fox and Blasi are joint first authors.)

Krishnan, S., Leech, R., Mercure, E., Lloyd-Fox, S. & Dick, F. (in press) Convergent and divergent fMRI responses in children and adults to increasing language production demands. Cerebral Cortex.

Papademetriou, M., Lloyd-Fox, S., Everdell, N.L., Darboe, M.K., Moore, S.E. Prentice, A.M. & Elwell, C.E. (2014) Optical imaging of brain activation in Gambian infants. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 812, 263-269.

Lloyd-Fox  S., Papademetriou, M., Darboe, M.K., Everdell, N.L., Wegmuller, R., Prentice, A.M., Moore, S.E. & Elwell, C.E. (2014) Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to assess cognitive function in infants in rural Africa. Nature Scientific Reports 4, 4740. 

Southgate, V., Begus, K., Lloyd-Fox, S. & Hamilton, A. (2014) Goal representation in the infant brain. NeuroImage, 85, 294-301.


Dick, F., Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi, A., Elwell. C.E. & Mills, D. (2013) Neuroimaging Methods In Mareschal, D., Butterworth, B. & Tolmie, A. (eds) Educational Neuroscience. Wiley Blackwell: Chichester, UK.

Fillippetti, M.L., Johnson, M.H., Lloyd-Fox, S., Dragovic, D. & Farroni, T. (2013) Body perception in newborns. Current Biology, 23, 2413-2416.

Grossmann, T., Lloyd-Fox, S. & Johnson, M.H. (2013) Brain responses reveal young infants’ sensitivity to when a social partner follows their gaze. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 6, 155-161.

Farroni, T., Chiarelli, A., Lloyd-Fox, S., Massaccesi, S., Merla, A., Gangi, V., Mattarello, T., Faranguna, D. & Johnson, M.H. (2013) Infant cortex responds to other humans from shortly after birth. Nature Scientific Report, 3, 2851.

Cristia, A., Dupoux, E., Hakuno, Y., Lloyd-Fox., S., Schuetze, M.,, Kivits, J., Bergvelt, T., van Gelder, M., Fillipin, L., Charron, S. & Minagawa-Kawai., Y. (2013) An online database of infant functional near infrared spectroscopy studies: a community-augmented systematic review. PLOS One, 8, e58906. 

Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi, A., Elwell, C.E., Charman, T., Murphy, D. & Johnson, M.H. (2013) Reduced neural sensitivity to social stimuli in infants at risk for autism. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, 280, 20123026. 


Correia, T., Lloyd-Fox, S., Everdell, N., Blasi, A., Elwell, C., Hebden, J.C. & Gibson, A. (2012) Three-dimensional optical topography of brain activity in infants watching videos of human movement. Physics in Medicine & Biology, 57, 1135-1146. 

Papademetriou, M.D., Richards, J., Correia, T., Blasi, A., Murphy, D.G., Lloyd-Fox, S., Johnson, M. & Elwell, C.E. (2012) Cortical Mapping of 3D Optical Topography in Infants. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 985.


Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi, A., Mercure, E., Elwell, C.E. & Johnson, M.H. (2011) The emergence of cerebral specialisation for the human voice over the first months of life. Social Neuroscience7, 317-330. doi:10.1080/17470919.2011.614696. 

Blasi, A., Mercure, E., Lloyd-Fox, S., Thomson, A., Brammer, M., Sauter, D., Deeley, Q., Barker, G.J., Renvall, V., Deoni, S., Gasston, D., Williams, S.C.R., Johnson, M.H., Simmons, A. & Murphy, D. (2011) Early specialization for voice and emotion processing in the infant brain. Current Biology21, 1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.009 

Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi, A., Everdell, N., Elwell, C.E. & Johnson, M.H. (2011) Selective cortical mapping of biological motion processing in young infants. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(9), 2521-2532. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2010.21598. This is a preprint version of the manuscript which has been accepted for publication in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

Gervain, J., Mehler, J., Werker, J.F., Nelson, C.A., Csibra, G., Lloyd-Fox, S., Shukla, M., Aslin, R.A. (2011) Near-infrared spectroscopy: A report from the McDonnell infant methodology consortium. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 1(1), 22-46. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2010.07.004. 


Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi, A. & Elwell, C.E. (2010) Illuminating the developing brain: The past, present and future of functional near infrared spectroscopy. Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, 34(3), 269-284. 

Blasi, A., Phillips, D., Lloyd-Fox, S., Hui Koh, P. & Elwell, C.E. (2010) Automatic detection of motion artefacts in infant functional optical topography studies. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 662, 279-284.


Grossman, T., Johnson, M.H., Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi, A., Deligianni, F., Elwell, C. & Csibra, G. (2008) Early cortical specialization for face-to-face communication in human infants. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 275, 2803-2811.

Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi, A., Volein, A., Everdell, N., Elwell, C.E. & Johnson, M.H. (2009) Social Perception in Infancy: A near infrared spectroscopy study. Child Development, 80, 986-999. 

Johnson, M.H. & Lloyd-Fox, S. (2008) Do we study what parents want us to? Development Science, 11, iii - iv.

Bremner, A.J., Mareschal, D., Lloyd-Fox, S., & Spence, C. (2008) Spatial localization of touch in the first year of life: Early influence of a visual code, and the development of remapping across changes in limb position. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137, 149-162. 

Blasi, A., Fox, S., Everdell, N., Volein, A., Tucker, L., Csibra, G., Gibson, A., Hebden, J., Johnson, M.H. & Elwell, C. (2007) Investigation of depth dependent changes in cerebral haemodynamics during face perception in infants. Physics in Medicine and Biology. 52, 6849-6864

Book Chapters

Lloyd-Fox, S. (in press) functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). In Hopkins, B., Geangu, E. & Linkenauger, S. (eds) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK.

Lloyd-Fox, S. (2015) Researching the brain in neurodevelopmental disorders. In Van Herwegen, J. & Riby, D. (eds) Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Research Challenges and Solutions. Routledge Psychology Press, Hove, UK.

Dick, F., Lloyd-Fox, S., Blasi, A., Elwell. C.E. & Mills, D. (2013) Neuroimaging Methods In Mareschal, D., Butterworth, B. & Tolmie, A. (eds) Educational Neuroscience. Wiley Blackwell: Chichester, UK.