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Professor Keith Andrew Wesnes

Professor Keith Andrew Wesnes

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience

South Cloisters 2.40

Keith is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and a member of the REACH research group. Since 1973 he has specialized in the measurement of changes to human cognitive function in clinical trials. His PhD into the cholinergic bases of human attention led him to computerize tests of major aspects of cognition in order to detect subtle changes in function produced by nicotine and scopolamine in healthy volunteers. In the early 1980s he developed the CDR System, a computerized set of tests to assess cognitive function in clinical trials with volunteers and virtually any clinical population. From 1986 until 2009 the CDR System was provided to the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries as a scientific service by his privately held company, Cognitive Drug Research Ltd. During this time the CDR System was used in over 1000 clinical trials and became the most widely used system of its type in worldwide research. The company grew to 95 employees, had offices in Goring, Chicago and Melbourne, and was twice awarded the most prestigious accolade for businesses in the United Kingdom, the Queen's Award for Enterprise; in 2002 for International Trade, and in 2003 for Innovation. In 2009 the company was sold and the CDR System is now provided to the clinical trial industry by Bracket Global.

Keith runs Wesnes Cognition Ltd, and has developed CogTrackTM, an internet based cognitive assessment system. The CogTrackTM System is being used in a variety of studies worldwide, including the 10 year PROTECT study (www.protectstudy.org.uk) in which over 16,000 adults, aged 50 to 96, performed the tests during the first year of the study.

Keith holds Visiting Professorships at the Department of Psychology, Northumbria University (since 1997), the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, Melbourne (since 2007), and the Medicinal Plant Research Group, University of Newcastle (since 2015). Previous academic positions have been held at Indiana University, Reading University, Guy’s Hospital Medical School, the University of East London and Bristol University. He has authored just under 300 peer-reviewed papers and chapters. Nine students have received PhDs under his supervision. 


  • BSc in Experimental Psychology, Reading University, 1973
  • PhD in Psychopharmacology, Reading University, 1979
  • FSS, 1983
  • CPsychol, 1988
  • FBPsS, 1989


Research interests

My research interest is the quality of cognitive function over the lifespan, and the factors which influence it. I firmly believe that properly developed automated tests provide the most sensitive and appropriate assessments of change in cognitive function in clinical research. Recently, the opportunity to test individuals online has enabled research to be conducted without the need for laboratory visits. To this end, I have developed the internet based CogTrack System to pursue these interests, for example into the factors determining cognitive ageing, both in traditional laboratory studies as well as large, remotely conducted, long-term population programmes.

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