Dr Sean Fallon

Dr Sean Fallon

Lecturer in Psychology

School of Psychology (Faculty of Health)



I completed my PhD at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, working on the genetic basis of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. I then moved to the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN) in Nijmegen to carry out post-doctoral research on pharmacology of cognitive control. More recently, I moved back to the UK to work on the pharmacology of cognitive deficits in Parkinson’s disease. In 2022, I moved to School of Psychology, University of Plymouth.


PhD Biology (Cognitive Neuroscience), MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, 2010



Research interests

There are three main strands of my research:

  • Cognitive control, particularly the flexibility and stability of working memory in neuropsychiatric populations.
  • Motivational Control, particularly whether rewards, or other financial incentives, enhance or impair behaviour.
  • Emotional Control, specifically looking at the role of self-generated or imposed emotional states and the impact this has on cognitive control.




Fallon, S., Hampshire, A., Williams-Gray, C., Barker, R., & Owen, A. (2013). Putative cortical dopamine levels affect cortical recruitment during planning. Neuropsychologia, 51(11), 2194–2201.

Fallon, S. J. (2021). Necessary impairments? The downside of functional compensation in frontostriatal circuits in people with presymptomatic Huntingt­on’s­ di­sease. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry,92(2), 120–121. https://doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2020-324678

Fallon, S. J., Bor, D., Hampshire, A., Barker, R. A., & Owen, A. M. (2017a). Spatial structure normalises working memory performance in Parkinson’s disease. Cortex, 96, 73–82.

Fallon, S. J., & Cools, R. (2014a). Reward acts on the pFC to enhance distractor resistance of working memory representations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(12), 2812–2826.

Fallon, S. J., Dolfen, N., Parolo, F., Zokaei, N., & Husain, M. (2019). Task-irrelevant financial losses inhibit the removal of information from working memory. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 1673.

Fallon, S. J., Hampshire, A., Barker, R. A., & Owen, A. M. (2016). Learning to be inflexible: Enhanced attentional biases in Parkinson’s disease. Cortex. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010945216301228

Fallon, S. J., Kienast, A., Muhammed, K., Ang, Y., Manohar, S. G., & Husain, M. (2019). Dopamine D2 receptor stimulation modulates the balance between ignoring and updating according to baseline working memory ability. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 33(10), 1254–1263. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881119872190

Fallon, S. J., Mattiesing, R. M., Dolfen, N., Manohar, S. G., & Husain, M. (2018a). Ignoring versus updating in working memory reveal differential roles of attention and feature binding. Cortex.

Fallon, S. J., Mattiesing, R. M., Muhammed, K., Manohar, S., & Husain, M. (2017a). Fractionating the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying working memory: Independent effects of dopamine and Parkinson’s disease. Cerebral Cortex, 27(12), 5727–5738.

Fallon, S. J., Muhammed, K., Drew, D. S., Ang, Y.-S., Manohar, S. G., & Husain, M. (2019). Dopamine guides competition for cognitive control: Common effects of haloperidol on working memory and response conflict. Cortex, 113, 156–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2018.11.031

Fallon, S. J., Smulders, K., Esselink, R. A., van de Warrenburg, B. P., Bloem, B. R., & Cools, R. (2015b). Differential optimal dopamine levels for set-shifting and working memory in Parkinson’s disease. Neuropsychologia, 77, 42–51.

Fallon, S. J., van der Schaaf, M. E., ter Huurne, N., & Cools, R. (2017). The neurocognitive cost of enhancing cognition with methylphenidate: Improved distractor resistance but impaired updating. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 29(4), 652–663.

Fallon, S. J., Zokaei, N., & Husain, M. (2016a). Causes and consequences of limitations in visual working memory. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1369(1), 40–54.

Fallon, S. J., Zokaei, N., Norbury, A., Manohar, S. G., & Husain, M. (2017c). Dopamine alters the fidelity of working memory representations according to attentional demands. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 29(4), 728–738.

Fallon, S., Williams-Gray, C., Barker, R., Owen, A., & Hampshire, A. (2012). Prefrontal dopamine levels determine the balance between cognitive stability and flexibility. Cerebral Cortex, 23(2), 361–369.

Grogan, J. P., Fallon, S. J., Zokaei, N., Husain, M., Coulthard, E. J., & Manohar, S. G. (2020). A new toolbox to distinguish the sources of spatial memory error. Journal of Vision, 20(13), 6–6. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.13.6

Hampshire, A., Gruszka, A., Fallon, S. J., & Owen, A. M. (2008b). Inefficiency in self-organized attentional switching in the normal aging population is associated with decreased activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(9), 1670–1686.

Kilpi, F., Soares, A. L. G., Fraser, A., Nelson, S. M., Sattar, N., Fallon, S. J., Tilling, K., & Lawlor, D. A. (2020). Changes in six domains of cognitive function with reproductive and chronological ageing and sex hormones: A longitudinal study in 2411 UK mid-life women. BMC Women’s Health, 20(1), 177. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-020-01040-3

Le Heron, C., Kolling, N., Plant, O., Kienast, A., Janska, R., Ang, Y. S., Fallon, S., Husain, M., & Apps, M. (2020). Dopamine and motivational state drive dynamics of human decision making. Journal Of Neuroscience, 40(27), 5273:5282

Manohar, S. G., Muhammed, K., Fallon, S. J., & Husain, M. (2018). Motivation dynamically increases noise resistance by internal feedback during movement. Neuropsychologia.

Manohar, S. G., Zokaei, N., Fallon, S. J., Vogels, T. P., & Husain, M. (2019b). Neural mechanisms of attending to items in working memory. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 101, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.03.017

Manohar, S., Lockwood, P., Drew, D., Fallon, S. J., Chong, T. T.-J., Jeyaretna, D. S., Baker, I., & Husain, M. (2021). Reduced decision bias and more rational decision making following ventromedial prefrontal cortex damage. Cortex, 138, 24–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2021.01.015

Marshall, T. R., den Boer, S., Cools, R., Jensen, O., Fallon, S. J.*, & Zumer, J. M.* (2018). Occipital alpha and gamma oscillations support complementary mechanisms for processing stimulus value associations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(1), 119–129.

Mazzetti, C., Staudigl, T., Marshall, T. R., Zumer, J. M., Fallon, S. J., & Jensen, O. (2019). Hemispheric Asymmetry of Globus Pallidus Relates to Alpha Modulation in Reward-Related Attentional Tasks. Journal of Neuroscience, 39(46), 9221–9236. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0610-19.2019

Rățală, C. E., Fallon, S. J., van der Schaaf, M. E., ter Huurne, N., Cools, R., & Sanfey, A. G. (2019a). Catecholaminergic modulation of trust decisions. Psychopharmacology, 1–10.

Rowe, J. B., Hughes, L., Ghosh, B. C. P., Eckstein, D., Williams-Gray, C. H., Fallon, S., Barker, R. A., & Owen, A. M. (2008). Parkinson’s disease and dopaminergic therapy—Differential effects on movement, reward and cognition. Brain, 131(8), 2094–2105.

Rowe, J. B., Hughes, L., Williams-Gray, C. H., Bishop, S., Fallon, S., Barker, R. A., & Owen, A. M. (2010). The val 158 met COMT polymorphism’s effect on atrophy in healthy aging and Parkinson’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 31(6), 1064–

Tabi, Y. A., Maio, M. R., Fallon, S. J., Udale, R., Dickson, S., Idris, M. I., Nobis, L., Manohar, S. G., & Husain, M. (2021). Impact of processing demands at encoding, maintenance and retrieval in visual working memory. Cognition, 214, 104758. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104758

Ter Huurne, N., Fallon, S. J., van Schouwenburg, M., van der Schaaf, M., Buitelaar, J., Jensen, O., & Cools, R. (2015). Methylphenidate alters selective attention by amplifying salience. Psychopharmacology, 232(23), 4317–4323.

van der Schaaf, M. E., Fallon, S. J., ter Huurne, N., Buitelaar, J., & Cools, R. (2013). Working memory capacity predicts effects of methylphenidate on reversal learning. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(10), 2011–2018.

Wearn, A. R., Nurdal, V., Saunders-Jennings, E., Knight, M. J., Madan, C. R., Fallon, S.-J., Isotalus, H. K., Kauppinen, R. A., & Coulthard, E. J. (2021). T2 heterogeneity as an in vivo marker of microstructural integrity in medial temporal lobe subfields in ageing and mild cognitive impairment. NeuroImage, 238, 118214. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118214

Zokaei, N., Grogan, J., Fallon, S. J., Slavkova, E., Hadida, J., Manohar, S., Nobre, A. C., & Husain, M. (2020a). Short-term memory advantage for brief durations in human APOE ε4 carriers. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 9503. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-66114-6