Simon Cox

Henry Dale Fellow

  • Lothian Birth Cohort Studies group
  • Psychology
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details



Room F8, Psychology Building

7 George Square, Edinburgh
Post code


  • Office Hours are generally 9am to 5pm, but please contact me to make an appointment.


I am Director of the The Lothian Birth Cohort Studies. These are Edinburgh-based follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1932 and 1947. I am the Principal Investigator on the Age UK, BBSRC and ESRC-funded Lothian Birth Cohort Study 1936. I work with multi-cohort neuroimaging, cognitive and other data to conduct research into lifecourse correlates of brain and cognitive differences. I was recently awarded a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, jointly supported by Wellcome and the Royal Society. Click to the Research tab below for more information. A full list of publications can be found here.

Selected publications


Conte F, Taylor AM, Corley J, Page D, Okely JA, Russ TC, Girelli L, Constantini G, Deary IJ, Cox SR. Cognitive change before old age (11 to 70) predicts cognitive change during old age (70 to 82). (2022). Psychological Science, 33:1803–1817.

Cox SR, Deary IJ (2022). Brain and cognitive ageing: the present, and some predictions (…about the future). Aging Brain 2:100032.

McCartney DL, Hillary RF, Trejo Bano D, Gadd DA, Walker RM, Nangle C, Flaig R, Campbell A, Murray AD, Harris SE, Porteous DJ, Tucker-Drob EM, McIntosh AM, Evans LK, Deary IJ, Cox SR*, Robinson MR*, Marioni RE*. (2022). Blood-based epigenome-wide analyses of cognitive abilities. Genome Biology 23:26.

Rakshasa-Loots AM, Whalley HC, Vera JH, Cox SR. (in press). Neuroinflammation in HIV-associated depression: evidence and future perspectives. Molecular Psychiatry.

Conole ELS, Stevenson AJ, Green C, Harris SE, Muñoz Maniega S, Valdés Hernández MC, Harris MA, Whalley HC, Bastin ME, Wardlaw HC, Miron VE, Deary IJ, Marioni RE, Cox SR. (2021). DNA methylation and protein markers of chronic inflammation and their associations with brain and cognitive ageing. Neurology  97:e2340-e2352.

Cox SR, Harris MA, Ritchie SJ, Buchanan CR, Valdés Hernández MC, Corley J, Taylor AM, Madole JW, Harris SE, Whalley HC, McIntosh AM, Russ TC, Bastin ME, Wardlaw JM, Deary IJ, Tucker-Drob EM. (2021). Three major dimensions of human brain cortical ageing in relation to cognitive decline across the 8th decade of life. Molecular Psychiatry 26:2651-2662.

Deary IJ*, Cox SR*, Hill WD* (2021). Genetic variation, brain and intelligence differences. Molecular Psychiatry, 27:335-353.

Wheater E, Shenkin S, Munoz Maniega S, Valdes Hernandez MC, Wardlaw JM, Deary IJ, Bastin ME, Boardman J, Cox SR. (2021). Birth weight is associated with brain tissue volumes 7 decades later, but not with MRI markers of brain ageing.  NeuroImage Clinical 31:102776.

Alloza C, Blesa-Cábez M, Bastin ME, Madole JW, Buchanan CR, Joost J, Gibson J, Deary IJ, Tucker-Drob EM, Whalley HC, Arango C, Cox SR*, Lawrie SM* (2020).  Psychotic-like experiences, polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia and structural properties of the salience, default mode and central-executive networks in healthy participants from UK Biobank. Translational Psychiatry, 10:122.

Buchanan CR, Ritchie SJ, Liewald DC, Madole J, Tucker-Drob EM, Deary IJ, Bastin ME, Cox SR (2020). The effect of network thresholding and weighting on structural brain networks in the UK Biobank. NeuroImage, 211, 116443.

Harris SE, Cox SR, Bell S, Starr JM, Marioni RE, Tucker-Drob EM, Bastin ME, Wardlaw JM, Butterworth A, Deary IJ (2020). Neurology-related protein biomarkers are associated with general cognitive ability and brain structure in older age. Nature Communications, 11:800.

Cox SR, Lyall DM, Ritchie SJ, Bastin ME, Harris MA, Buchanan CR, Fawns-Ritchie C, Barbu MC, de Nooij L, Reus LM, Alloza C, Shen X, Neilson E, Alderson HL, Hunter S, Liewald DC, Whalley HC, McIntosh AM, Lawrie SM, Pell JP, Tucker-Drob EM, Wardlaw JM, Gale CR, Deary IJ. (2019). Associations between vascular risk factors and brain MRI indices in UK Biobank. European Heart Journal, 40:2290-2300

Cox SR, Ritchie SJ, Fawns-Ritchie C, Tucker-Drob EM, Deary IJ (2019). Structural brain imaging correlates of general intelligence in UK Biobank. Intelligence, 75:101376.

Corley J, Cox SR, Deary IJ (2017). Healthy cognitive ageing in the Lothian Birth Cohort studies: marginal gains not magic bullet. Psychological Medicine, 9, 1-21.

Cox SR*, Ritchie SJ*, Tucker-Drob EM, Liewald DC, Hagenaars SP, Davies G, Wardlaw JM, Gale CR, Bastin ME Deary IJ. (2016). Ageing and brain white matter structure in 3513 UK Biobank participants. Nature Communications, 7:13629.

Cox SR, Dickie DA, Ritchie SJ, Karama S, Pattie A, Royle NA, Corley J, Aribisala BS, Valdés Hernández MC, Muñoz Maniega S, Starr JM, Bastin ME, Evans AC, Wardlaw JM, Deary IJ. (2016). Associations between education and brain structure at age 73 years, adjusted for age 11 IQ. Neurology, 87, 1820-1826.

Deary IJ, Cox SR, Ritchie SJ. (2016). Getting Spearman off the skyhook: One more in a century (since Thomson, 1916) of attempts to vanquish g. Response to Kovacs and Conway. Psychological Inquiry, 27, 192-199.

Cox SR, Ferguson KJ, Royle NA, Shenkin SD, MacPherson SE, MacLullich AMJ, Deary IJ & Wardlaw JM (2014). A systematic review of manual frontal lobe parcellation techniques in magnetic resonance imaging. Brain Structure and Function, 219(1): 1-22.

Books and book chapters

Della Sala S, MacPherson SE, Cox SR, Girardi A & Iveson M. Handbook of Frontal Lobe Assessment (2015). Oxford University Press, Oxford UK.

MacPherson SE & Cox SR (2017). The frontal ageing hypothesis: evidence from normal ageing and dementia In: The Handbook of Gerontology Research Methods: Understanding Successful Ageing, Riby, L (Ed). Routledge Psychology Press, UK.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Vasillis Raptis 2023-present                    PhD External Advisor, Roslin Institute

Austeja Ciulkinyte 2023-present           PhD Translational Neuroscience

Josie Robertson 2023-present               PhD (ECAT-Plus / Wellcome)

Zhen Yang 2023                                            Visiting PhD student, KU Leuven

Xinmu Chen 2023-present                       PhD Psychology

Lukas Duffner 2023                                     Visiting PhD student, University of Maastricht

Maximiliano Cueva 2022-present         MSc by Research, Psychology

Rebekah Smikle 2022-present               PhD Translational Neuroscience

Hannah Smith 2022-present                  PhD Translational Neuroscience

Beth Jones 2022-present                         MSc HCN dissertation (part-time)

Arish Rakshasa-Loots 2021-present    PhD Translational Neuroscience

Past PhD students supervised

Ami Nwankwo 2021                                MSc dissertation

Danielle Page 2019/21                           MSc HCN dissertation (part-time) (dist.)

Federica Conte 2020                               Visiting PhD student, University of Milano-Bicocca

Hon Wah Yeung 2019-2023                  PhD (Mental Health Data Science)

Eleanor Conole 2019-2023                   PhD Translational Neuroscience

Jure Mur 2019-2023                                PhD Translational Neuroscience

Emily Wheater 2017-2021                     PhD Translational Neuroscience

Clara Alloza 2014-2018                           3+1 MRC DTP Precision Medicine PhD

Marcin Radecki 2016/17                        Volunteer Research Assistant

Joanna Moodie  2016/17                       MSc HCN dissertation (dist.)

Paula Martha Grill 2014/15                   MSc HCN dissertation (dist.)



Research summary

I am interested in how the brain facilitates complex cognitive abilities, how the structure and function of brain networks can be measured and how potential determinants of cognitive ageing might alter their composition, integrity and functioning. Ongoing projects include:

Preterm birth as a determinant of neurodevelopment and cognition in children: mechanisms and causal evidence (Medical Research Council)

Factors of biological ageing: does it all go together when it goes? (Wellcome and the Royal Society)

The Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 Waves 6 and 7 - (ESRC and BBSRC core funding)

Large-Scale Genomic Analysis of Aging-Related Cognitive Change Prior to Dementia Onset (US National Institutes of Health RF1)

Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 - Brain Imaging and Cognitive Ageing (Medical Research Council)

Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 - The Disconnected Mind Phase 4 (Age UK)

Evaluating longitudinal changes in the human structural connectome in relation to cognitive ageing (US National Institute on Aging R01)

Lifecourse of Place - how environments throughout life can support healthy ageing (Economic and Social Research Council)