Kalina Christoff is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department and the Brain Research Centre at the University of British Columbia.

She completed her doctoral work at Stanford University with John D. E. Gabrieli, and her postdoctoral training at Cambridge, UK with Adrian M. Owen. Her work focuses on the neural and cognitive mechanisms of human thought, reasoning and memory, using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

Her work on the functions of the anterior prefrontal cortex (PFC) has linked this part of the brain to the uniquely human mental processes of introspection and meta-awareness. Dr. Christoff’s most recent work focuses on examining spontaneous forms of thought, such as memories and thought streams occuring in the form of mind wandering. She is also interested in examining meditation-based thought phenomena such as mindfulness, and developing clinical applications for fMRI using real-time fMRI feedback to train modulation of activation in specific brain regions.


Matt Dixon

Melissa Ellamil

Kieran Fox


Savannah Nijeboer

Manesh Girn

Doris Pham

Tanya Barr

Mara Puertolas


Kieran Fox


University of London
Colorado University at
University of California at Santa Cruz
University of Montreal

Pierre Zakarauskas
University of British Columbia

University of British Columbia

Jonathan Schooler

University of California at Santa Barbara

Sean Pritchard
Fielding Graduate University

Silvia A. Bunge

University of California
at Berkeley

Evan Thompson

University of Toronto

Charles Dobson
Emily Carr Univesity

Mark Beeman
Northwestern University


Rachelle Smith

Kamyar Keramatian

Alan Gordon

Cade Warren

Graeme McCaig

Ivan Kouznetsov

Jonathan Erez

Jason Winters

Lanna Bessel

Conor Lavelle

Irene Liu

Brian Luus

Stan Geller

Alex Weinberg



Kieran is currently a PhD candidate in the Christoff lab. He researches the neural basis of meditation, mind wandering (spontaneous thought), and metacognition. During his undergraduate years his research focused on the memory sources of dreams and nightmares, specifically memories underlying the hypnagogic state. For his MA work at UBC, he worked on demonstrating better introspection in people who practice meditation. Recently, work with collaborators has shown strong links between dreaming and mind wandering, and explored facilitative interactions between mind wandering and metacognition. For his PhD he is continuing to explore mind wandering, metacognition, and meditation. Kieran's work is supported by an NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and a Mind and Life Institute Varela Research Award.




• Ph.D Cognitive Neuroscience (candidate), University of British Columbia
• M.A. Cognitive Neuroscience, University of British Columbia (2012)
• B.A. Psychology (minors in Neuroscience and World Religion), McGill University (2008)

June 2016



Peter Sedlmeier, TU Chemnitz
Jess Andrews-Hanna, CU Boulder
Nathan Spreng, Cornell
Michael Lifshitz, McGill
Yoona Kang, U Penn
Alex Rauscher, UBC
Steve Heine, UBC
Rebecca Todd, UBC
Evan Thompson, UBC
Bill Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz
Liza Solomonova, U Montreal
Tore Nielsen, U Montreal
Richard Sears, MICS



• Christoff, K., Irving, Z.C., Fox, K.C.R., Spreng, R.N., & Andrews-Hanna, J.R., (in press). Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: A dynamic framework. Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Fox, K.C.R., Andrews-Hanna, J.R., & Christoff, K. (under revision). The neurobiology of self-generated thought from cells to systems: Integrating evidence from lesion studies, human intracranial electrophysiology, neurochemistry, and neuroendocrinology. Neuroscience.

Fox, K.C.R., Fitz, N.S., & Reiner, P.B. (under revision). The multiplicity of memory enhancement: Practical and ethical implications of the diverse neural substrates underlying human memory subsystems. Neuroethics.

• Ellamil, M., Fox, K.C.R., Dixon, M.L., Pritchard, S., Todd, R.M., Thompson, E., & Christoff, K. (2016). Dynamics of neural recruitment surrounding the spontaneous arising of thoughts in experienced mindfulness practitioners. NeuroImage.

Fox, K.C.R., Dixon, M.L., Nijeboer, S., Girn, M., Floman, J.L., Lifshitz, M., Ellamil, M., Sedlmeier, P., & Christoff, K. (2016). Functional neuroanatomy of meditation: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 78 functional neuroimaging investigations. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 65, 208-228.

Fox, K.C.R., Kang, Y., Lifshitz, M., & Christoff, K. (2016). Increasing cognitive-emotional flexibility with meditation and hypnosis: The cognitive neuroscience of de-automatization. To appear in: Meditation and Hypnosis, A. Raz and M. Lifshitz (editors), Ch. 11. Oxford University Press.

Fox, K.C.R. & Christoff, K. (2015). Transcranial direct current stimulation to lateral prefrontal cortex could increase meta-awareness of mind wandering. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(19), E2414.

Fox, K.C.R., Spreng, R.N., Ellamil, M., Andrews-Hanna, J.R., & Christoff, K. (2015). The wandering brain: Meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies of mind-wandering and related spontaneous thought processes. NeuroImage, 111, 611-621.

• Domhoff, G.W. & Fox, K.C.R. (2015). Dreaming and the default network: A review, synthesis, and counterintuitive research proposal. Consciousness and Cognition, 33, 342-353.

Fox, K.C.R., Thompson, E., Andrews-Hanna, J.R., & Christoff, K. (2014). Is thinking really aversive? Commentary on Wilson et al.'s "Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind." Frontiers in Psychology: Cognition, 5(1427), 1-4.

• Dixon, M.L., Fox, K.C.R., & Christoff, K. (2014). A framework for understanding the relationship between externally and internally directed cognition. Neuropsychologia, 62, 321-330.

• Dixon, M.L., Fox, K.C.R., & Christoff, K. (2014). Evidence for rostro-caudal functional organization in multiple brain areas related to goal-directed behavior. Brain Research, 1572, 26-39.

• Solomonova, E., Fox, K.C.R., & Nielsen, T.A. (2014). Methodological considerations for the neurophenomenology of dreaming: Commentary on Windt's 'Reporting dream experience.' Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(317), 1-3.

Fox, K.C.R., Nijeboer, S., Dixon, M.L., Floman, J.L., Ellamil, M., Rumak, S.P., Sedlmeier, P., & Christoff, K. (2014). Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 43, 48-73.

Fox, K.C.R. & Christoff, K. (2014). Metacognitive facilitation of spontaneous thought processes: When metacognition helps the wandering mind find its way. In: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Metacognition, S.M. Fleming and C.D. Frith (editors), Ch. 13, pp. 293-319.

Fox, K.C.R., Nijeboer, S., Solomonova, E., Domhoff, G.W. & Christoff, K. (2013). Dreaming as mind wandering: Evidence from functional neuroimaging and first-person content reports. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7(412), 1-18.

Fox, K.C.R., Zakarauskas, P., Dixon, M.L., Ellamil, M., Thompson, E. & Christoff, K. (2012). Meditation experience predicts introspective accuracy. PLoS ONE, 7(9), e45370.

• Stenstrom, P., Fox, K.C.R., Solomonova, E. & Nielsen, T. A. (2012). Mentation during sleep onset theta bursts in a trained participant: A role for NREM stage 1 sleep in memory processing? International Journal of Dream Research, 5(1), 37-46.


• "Dreaming as Mind Wandering" (September 2013) Talk at Vancouver General Hospital hosted by BrainTalks@UBC.