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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

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Oliver Robinson

Oliver Robinson

Senior Research Fellow

o.robinson@ucl.ac.uk

Oliver Robinson

Current Research and Interests


Oliver Robinson is an MRC Career Development Award Fellow. His work attempts to understand the neuropsychopharmacological underpinnings of emotional processing in psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders. The main research tools used are computerized neuropsychological testing, computational models of decision making and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The specific fMRI focus is on prefrontal-amygdala circuits and the pharmacological focus is on the neurotransmitter serotonin. The ultimate goal is to clarify the neuropsychopharmacological circuitry of emotional processing in anxiety and depression, such that it becomes possible to tune this circuitry back towards healthy function.

Research Summary


My research programme attempts to understand the neuropsychopharmacological underpinnings of psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders by examining both patient populations and affective manipulations in healthy individuals (including threat of shock, mood induction and pharmacological manipulation). The main research tools used are computerized neuropsychological testing, computational models of decision making and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The specific fMRI focus is on subcortical-cortical circuits critical in emotional processing such as prefrontal-amygdala and  prefrontal-striatum circuits. The pharmacological focus is on the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and the impact that they have on the processing of reward and punishment within these circuits.


The working hypothesis is that emotion-related pathologies are driven by an altered balance between reward and punishment computational circuits (e.g. too little reward, too much punishment processing in depression).  The ultimate aim of this research is to clarify the neuropsychopharmacological circuitry of resilience to anxiety and depression, such that it becomes possible to catch, preempt and avoid such disorders. Might it be possible, for instance, to safely tune-up reward-related circuits, and tune-down punishment-related circuits in individuals at risk of depression? 

Anxiety and depression influence nearly a third of individuals at some point in their lives and carry an enormous economic and emotional burden for both the individual and society. Preventing the onset of such disorders would therefore be extremely valuable.


RPS Widget Placeholderhttp://research-reports.ucl.ac.uk/RPSDATA.SVC/pubs/OROBI05