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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

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Neuroscience and Mental Health

Neuroscience and Mental Health group investigates neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying psychiatric symptoms The group is led by Prof Jonathan Roiser.

Jonathan Roiser

Group Leader

 

j.roiser@ucl.ac.uk

+44 20 7679 1170

Jon Roiser

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.

Currently a major focus of our laboratory is investigating changes in motivational processing and decision-making in depression, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We also collaborate with researchers in the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit to develop and test models of decision-making in healthy volunteers, which can be applied to depression. Other work focuses on how psychopharmacological manipulations alter reward processing, the effect of anxiety on decision making and whether non-invasive brain stimulation can boost the effect of psychological therapy.

Researchers interested in carrying out postdoctoral or PhD projects in Prof Roiser’s lab can contact him directly.

Group Members

Rick Adams

Rick Adams
rick.adams@ucl.ac.uk

My research interest is in using the techniques of Computational Psychiatry to understand schizophrenia and psychosis. Understanding the brain at a computational level allows us to link biological, social and psychological accounts of mental function and dysfunction in a mathematically rigorous way (Adams et al., 2015, JNNP). 

Hugo Fleming

Hugo Fleming

I am a PhD student funded by a Wellcome Trust 4-year Studentship in Neuroscience. My research is focussed on understanding a phenomenon called cognitive control, which refers to the way that we can adaptively regulate our own thoughts and actions in order to achieve particular goals. This is thought to be impaired in certain disorders including anxiety and depression, so understanding cognitive control may help to inform clinical research in the future.

Siobhan Gormley

Siobhan Gormley
 

I am a Research Assistant working with Dr. Oliver Robinson, investigating the neuropsychopharmacology of emotion processing in anxiety disorders. To do this we are using a techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), computerized cognitive tasks, threat of shock paradigms and pharmacological manipulations. 

Chamith Halahakoon

Chamith Halahakoon
c.halahakoon@ucl.ac.uk

I am a Clinical Research Associate working on a Wellcome Trust funded project in Professor Jonathan Roiser’s lab. Madeleine Payne, Vincent Valton and I are currently running a study in which we are investigating the effects of dopamine on reward processing in depression. Our ultimate goal is to uncover the mechanisms that underlie depression and discover how these can be altered in a therapeutic way.

Madeleine Payne

Madeleine Payne
m.payne@ucl.ac.uk

I am a Research Assistant working on a Wellcome Trust funded project with Professor Jonathan Roiser and Dr Vincent Valton. We are currently investigating reward and punishment processing in depression using computerised cognitive tasks and computational models of decision making. The aim of this research is to characterise the underlying cognitive mechanisms of depressive symptoms.

 
Alex Pike

Alex Pike

I am a Postdoctoral researcher working with Dr Oliver Robinson on his MRC grant, which aims to further develop our understanding of the computational and neurobiological mechanisms underpinning anxiety disorders, with the eventual aim of using this work to improve treatments. I am particularly interested in how computational modelling can lead to a more sophisticated understanding of how anxiety disorders might arise, and how the computational models we use are realised in the brain.

 

Oliver Robinson

Oliver Robinson
o.robinson@ucl.ac.uk

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.

Ioannis Sarigiannidis

Ioannis
i.sarigiannidis.12@ucl.ac.uk

Ioannis (Yannis) Sarigiannidis is a PhD student supervised by Prof Jonathan Roiser and Dr Oliver Robinson, funded by a Wellcome Trust-NIH scheme. He is currently investigating how aversive states including fear and anxiety influence perception and specifically how they might alter our subjective sense of time.

Anahita Talwar

Anahita Talwar
anahita.talwar.15@ucl.ac.uk

I am a PhD student on the MRC DTP CASE programme supervised by Prof Jonathan Roiser and Dr Quentin Huys, and collaborating with Cambridge Cognition. I am working on developing computational models for the CANTAB tasks that can be used to identify more objective differences in the neurobiology of  healthy and depressed individuals. Ultimately this understanding could allow for more targeted treatments for patients.

 

Vincent Valton

Vincent Valton
v.valton@ucl.ac.uk

I am a Postdoctoral researcher in computational neuropsychiatry working with Prof. Jon Roiser at the ICN (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL), and collaborating with Prof. Peter Dayan (Gatsby Unit, UCL). I work primarily on a Wellcome Trust project awarded to Prof. Roiser aiming at elucidating reward and punishment processing anomalies in Depression. Using computational methods such as Reinforcement-Learning or Bayesian inference models, we attempt to assay various hypotheses of cognitive processes (e.g. learning and/or decision-making) that may go awry in mental illness. Ultimately, the goals of this project are to identify the neurobiological and computational processes that may differ to that of healthy subjects in Depression. These, could in turn lead to a better understanding of the continuum and/or sub-categories observed in Depression and result in better “personalised care” for patients.

Learn more about me at my website.

Yumeya Yamamori

Yumeya Yamamori
yumeya.yamamori@ucl.ac.uk

I am a Research Assistant working with Dr. Oliver Robinson on the effects of common interventions for anxiety disorders on emotional processing in non-anxious and anxious individuals. To this end, we are conducting experiments with threat-of-shock emotional learning/processing tasks, and functional magnetic resonance imaging. The aim is to determine the neural circuitry underlying emotional dysfunction in anxiety, and inform treatment strategies