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Professor Beth Jefferies

My research

I study the brain processes that allow us to understand the meanings of words, objects, faces and sounds. I am interested in how we represent conceptual knowledge and how we selectively retrieve relevant information. For example, we think about different things when we hear the word “bank” on a riverside walk or when discussing money. Although this feels automatic, a complex interplay of representations and retrieval mechanisms is necessary. I study patients with brain injuries and use neuroimaging and brain stimulation techniques to try to understand this aspect of our mental lives.

My journey

Meredith was born when I was a research fellow. My work was very flexible and I was able to stay at home with her at least one day a week. My husband also switched to part-time work and became her main carer. When our second child was born, I had a research group of my own. I officially took maternity leave but still met regularly with the people in my group, normally while baby Verity was feeding or sleeping in my arms. I still combine work and family life very flexibly, stealing moments on my laptop whenever I can.

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