Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Neuroscience and Mental Health

Neuroscience and Mental Health group investigates neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying psychiatric symptoms. The group is co-directed by Jonathan Roiser (Depression Lab) and Oliver Robinson (Anxiety Lab).

Jonathan Roiser

Group Leader



+44 20 7679 1170

John Roiser

Oliver Robinson

Group Leader



+44 20 7679 1138

Oliver Robinson

Neuroscience and Mental Health Research

Our aim is to understand the neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying psychiatric symptoms. We utilise experimental techniques drawn from cognitive psychology, functional neuroimaging, psychopharmacology, computational modelling and genetics, both in individuals suffering from mental health problems and healthy volunteers.

Group Members

Post-doctoral Research Fellows

Paulina Lukow


Paulina Lukow Smiling at the Camera


My research focuses on the neuroscience of emotion processing. I am particularly interested in how this phenomenon relates to our mental health. My aim is to find out whether it can be targeted with novel treatments for mental health conditions such as psychosis and anxiety.

Emily Hird

Emily Hird Smiling at the Camera


I am a Research Fellow interested in the role of reward processing and beliefs in low mood, psychosis, and the placebo effect. I work with Prof Jon Roiser, using cognitive tests and functional neuroimaging to explore how physical activity benefits motivation and mood.

PhD Students 

Peter Kirk

Peter Kirk

I am a PhD student on the Leverhulme Ecological Brain DTP. I am interested in how affective systems modulate perceptual and cognitive processes, with a specific focus on threat. My PhD is concerned with predicting everyday fluctuations in anxiety across naturalistic contexts. For this, I am utilizing cognitive, neural, and psychophysiological recordings for in- and out-of-lab experiments. 

Millie Lowther

Millie Lowther

I am working with Dr. Oliver Robinson and Alexandra Pike. We’re using computerised tasks and fMRI imaging to investigate the effects of common treatments for anxiety disorders on emotional processing. The aim of this research is to characterise the neurobiological mechanisms of these interventions in order to inform treatment strategies.

Madeleine Payne

Madeleine Moses-Payne

I am an MRC-funded PhD student on the UCL-Birkbeck Neuroscience and Mental Health program. My research focuses on why many mental health disorders first appear during adolescence - the period of life that spans the teens and early 20s. My specific focus is on self-concept development during adolescence and the development of our ability to introspect on our own thoughts and feelings (metacognition).

Priya Rajyaguru 

Priya Rajyaguru

I am a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Wellcome Trust Clinical PhD Fellow working with Professor Jon Roiser (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL) and Professor Glyn Lewis (Division of Psychiatry, UCL). My research focusses on understanding the neurocognitive basis of rumination, characterised by repetitive and perseverative thinking, seen in a number of mental health difficulties. I am interested in this style of thinking in adolescents and am particularly curious about the associations between rumination and depression in this age group. 

Yumeya Yamamori

yumeya yamamori

I am a PhD student funded by a Wellcome Trust 4-year Studentship in Science. I'm working with Prof Jonathan Roiser and Dr Oliver Robinson on pathologically repetitive behaviours like avoidance behaviours and drug-seeking. My specific aim is to understand the factors which might lead behaviour to become inflexible and maladaptive, and ultimately how this relates to clinical symptoms.

Harry Costello


Harry Costello Smiling At Camera



Agatha Alves-Anet

Agatha Alves-Anet Smiling At The Camera


I am a UCL-Wellcome Mental Health Science PhD student working with Prof. Oliver Robinson on disentangling the cognitive mechanisms of different anxiety disorders. I’m particularly interested in the differences and similarities in how state anxiety induced by threat of shock, panic induced by 7.5% CO2 inhalation, and acute stress induced by the Social Stress Test, affects cognitive function.

Karel Kieslich

Karol Kielish Looking Into The Distance


I am a PhD student on the 4-year Mental Health Science programme funded by Wellcome Trust. Together with Prof Jonathan Roiser, I study depressive symptoms that develop after a somatic illness affecting the brain, such as stroke, migraine and various inflammatory diseases. My aim is to understand how the way such illnesses affect the brain can contribute to the development of depressive symptoms, and what this tells us about the underlying brain mechanisms of depression in general.

Ella Tuominen

Ella Tuominen Smiling at the Camera


I am a PhD student on the UCL Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD in Mental Health Science programme working with Prof Oliver Robinson. I am interested in how psychological and pharmacological mental health interventions change our way of perceiving and interacting with the world. As such, my research focuses on the cognitive mechanisms of psychological therapy modalities tthat are used to treat anxiety disorders.

Sarah Buhler

Sarah Buhler Smiling at the Camera


I am a PhD Student on the BBSRC funded LIDo DTP. My research interest broadly lies in understanding how human cognition can be biased and as a result distort what we perceive, learn and remember. My hope is to understand how this manifests in the general population and those with elevated anxiety or depression. To investigate this I will use behavioural tasks in conjunction with neuroimaging to probe the underlying neural mechanisms.

Carlos Mena

Carlos Mena Looking at the Camera



Nura Sidarus

Nura Sidarus

I am interested in understanding how we make decisions and how we come to feel in control of our actions and their consequences, i.e. have a sense of agency. Using behavioural, computational, and neuroimaging methods, I investigate influences on learning and decision-making, e.g. due to distracting stimuli, freedom of choice, confidence in a decision (aka metacognition), and how these also interact with our sense of agency. I have also started to take a computational psychiatry approach to exploring how these (meta)cognitive processes may become maladaptive and underlie psychiatric symptoms, such as depression. This new project is supported by an ESRC New Investigator Grant, and a collaboration with Prof Jon Roiser and the Neuroscience of Mental Health group. I’m also a lecturer in Psychology, at Royal Holloway University of London.

Find out more about my work on my website.