Kate Jeffery

Kate Jeffery
Kate Jeffery.JPG
Alma materUniversity of Otago, University of Edinburgh
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity College London
Academic advisorsJohn O'Keefe

Kathryn Jane Jeffery is a neuroscientist from New Zealand. She is a professor of behavioural neuroscience at University College London. She studies how the brain encodes three-dimensional space and its role in navigation.

Early life and career[]

Jeffery graduated with a degree of MB ChB from the University of Otago in 1985.[1] After working as a house officer, she returned to the University of Otago to complete a master's degree in 1989 under the supervision of Cliff Abraham.[1][2] She completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 1993 under the supervision of Richard Morris.[1][2][3] During this time she worked in the same lab as May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser.[4] She went on to work as a postdoctoral researcher with John O'Keefe, who won the 2014 Nobel Prize for his work on place cells, at University College London.[1][4] Jeffery correctly predicted he would win the Nobel Prize in a tweet.[4]

Jeffery stayed at University College London to become a lecturer and later a professor.[1] Here, she founded the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience, of which she is also director.[1][5]


Jeffery is particularly interested in the representation of 3D space in our brain.[6][7] Her lab reported in 2011 that place cells and grid cells, special types of cells in the brain that are important for navigation, predominantly represent 3D space as a horizontal plane.[6] However, a later study from her lab showed that place cells can indeed represent 3D place.[8]

Jeffery also studies head direction cells, cells in the brain that represent the direction an animal is facing.[9][7][10]

Science and art[]

Jeffery has been involved in a number of projects linking neuroscience and art. She collaborated on the piece Spin Glass with Jenny Walsh and Jeremy Keenan, which represents the head direction network in the brain of an animal.[11][12] She consulted on the Off-Broadway play The Nature of Forgetting, about how the brain represents memory.[13][14][15]

Jeffery is also interested in the link between architecture and the representation of location in the brain. She presented at the Conscious Cities conferences on how the design of environments affects the sense of direction.[16]

Environmental activism[]

Jeffery is a member of Extinction Rebellion, a climate emergency group.[17] She has spoken at Extinction Rebellion events on the science behind the climate emergency.[17][18]


Jeffery is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation.[19] She is also a Vice-President for the Royal Institute of Navigation.[1][19]

Selected publications[]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Office, FENS. "Kate Jeffery". FENS.org. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b katejeffery (21 November 2012). "About me". Corticalia. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  3. ^ "67 | Kate Jeffery on Entropy, Complexity, and Evolution – Sean Carroll". www.preposterousuniverse.com. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Woolston, Chris. "Nobel forecasting brings fun to online discussions". Nature News. doi:10.1038/nature.2014.16135.
  5. ^ "Cognitive neuroscience and architecture". The Centre for Conscious Design. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  6. ^ a b Welsh 2011-08-08T18:52:02Z, Jennifer. "Brain Finding May Explain Disoriented Pilots, Astronauts". livescience.com. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Kate Jeffery – Knowledge Quarter". Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  8. ^ "You live in a mostly 2D world, but the map in your brain charts the places you've been in 3D". massivesci.com. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  9. ^ Webb, Jonathan (13 May 2015). "Donut-shaped 'compass' in fly brain". BBC News. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  10. ^ "A Map to Attach Memories to". Losing Myself. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  11. ^ "2018 – Art of Neuroscience". Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  12. ^ Simon, Johnny. "These beautiful works of art illustrate the brain's complexity". Quartz. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  13. ^ BWW News Desk. "London's Theatre Re Explores Dementia Through Physical Theater In THE NATURE OF FORGETTING". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  14. ^ "The Nature of Forgetting in UK tour". Entertainment Focus. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  15. ^ Lee, Jenny (17 May 2018). "The art of forgetting: Show explores memory, dementia and importance of the here and now". The Irish News. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  16. ^ Bond, Michael. "The hidden ways that architecture affects how you feel". www.bbc.com. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  17. ^ a b Colgrave, Stephen (11 September 2019). "Beyond Brexit: 44 MPs Rebel to Save our Planet as Parliament is Prorogued". Byline Times. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  18. ^ UCL (11 July 2019). "Extinction Rebellion lectures". UCL Events. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  19. ^ a b "UCL Minds Lunch Hour Lecture: The psychology of climate inaction – London | Events | The British Neuroscience Association". www.bna.org.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2020.