Ana Maria Portugal

PhD student



Dr. Tim Smith, Prof. Jugnoo Rahi (UCL GOS Institute of Child Health), Prof. Mark Johnson 

Research Interests

I’m a Portuguese neuroscientist who moved to London to study for a PhD researching the impact of early visual experiences (e.g. daily use of digital technologies such as touchscreens devices) on the development of visual attention, executive function and vision. For my studies I’m applying a wide range of developmental research methods (e.g. eye-tracking based measures of attention control, behavioural measures, visual function tests) longitudinally on 12 to 42 months-old children. My studies are part of the TABLET Project and I’m funded by an ESRC 1+3 Life Study Studentship (2015-2019), with enhancement for advanced quantitative methods. In my spare time I like to have fun sharing science with the public, especially young audiences – see below public engagement activities.


PhD Psychology CBCD Birkbeck, 2016 – present

MSc Developmental Sciences (Distinction)  Birkbeck, University of London, 2015 – 2016

MSc Health Sciences (18/20)  University of Minho, 2011 – 2013

BSc Applied Biology (16/20)  University of Minho, 2008 – 2011


Research Posts

Research Assistant  Life and Health Sciences Research Institute, University of Minho, 2014


Research dissemination


XXII International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS) Biennial Conference. Heightened visual pop-out in toddlers with high daily touchscreen use, in the Flash Talk Session on Babies and screens. Ana Maria Portugal, Dr. Rachael Bedford, Dr. Celeste Cheung, Dr. Teodora Gliga & Dr. Tim Smith. Philadelphia, USA, July 2018

19th European Conference on Eye Movements (ECEM) Assessing gaze data quality in a large multi-centre autism developmental cohort, in the Symposium on Developmental eye tracking. Ana Maria Portugal, Dr. Luke Mason & Dr. Tim J. Smith. Wuppertal, Germany, August 2017

2nd International IEEE Conference on Serious Games and Applications for Health (SeGAH) Cognitive Intervention Protocol for Age-Related Memory Impairments. Ana Maria Portugal, Daniela Silva Ferreira, Joana Reis, Francisco Pinho & Dr. Nuno Dias. Algarve, Portugal, May 2013


40th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP). Investigating the influence of infant touchscreen use on screen-based attention control. Ana Maria Portugal, Dr. Tim Smith, Dr. Celeste Cheung & Dr. Rachael Bedford. Berlin, Germany, August 2017

Public engagement

Occasional volunteer and demonstrator for the Science Museum London, Native Scientist school workshops, Soapbox London and Brain Play, 2017 – present

Helper at “The Science of Emotion” Screening Pixar’s Inside Out BIMI Kid’s club/SciFilm series, Birkbeck, 2017

Volunteer Researcher at Where do I look and why? Residency in the Science Museum London, 2016

Helper at More than a feeling: How your brain responds to romance at the movies in the British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank London, 2015



Reis, J., Portugal, A. M., Fernandes, L., Afonso, N., Pereira, M., Sousa, N., & Dias, N. S. (2016). An alpha and theta intensive and short neurofeedback protocol for healthy aging working-memory training. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 8.



Reis, J., Portugal, A., Pereira, M. R., & Dias, N. (2015, April). Alpha and theta intensive neurofeedback protocol for age-related cognitive deficits. In Neural Engineering (NER), 2015 7th International IEEE/EMBS Conference on (pp. 715-718). IEEE.

Portugal, A. M., Ferreira, D. S., Reis, J. S., Pinho, F., & Dias, N. S. (2013, May). Cognitive intervention protocol for age-related memory impairments. In Serious Games and Applications for Health (SeGAH), 2013 IEEE 2nd International Conference on (pp. 1-6). IEEE.