Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


CBT and the Neural Circuits of Anxiety

We are looking for participants with persistent anxiety who are registered to undergo psychological therapy for anxiety to take part in our research study on the effects of psychological therapy on learning and emotional processing. It is hoped that this research will contribute to an improved understanding of anxiety and its treatments.

Study overview

Participants will undergo behavioural and neuroimaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging) testing before and after a period of their usual care. This may be before and after i) a period of waiting times for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or ii) a period CBT itself. Please note that participation in this study will not affect whether or not, or how long you wait to receive CBT as part of your usual care. Some computerised, cognitive tasks in this study will involve harmless electrical shocks which are designed to produce a temporary state of unpleasantness. 


£50 for full participation, £7.50 per hour for partial participation


Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Alexandra House, 17-19 Queens Square, WC1N 3AZ


Visit one (screening session; around 1.5 hours)

This visit will determine your suitability for the study, and will involve:

 - A standard structured interview assessing your current and past mood and experiences

 - Psychological questionnaires assessing similar themes

 If eligible and you wish to continue with the study, you will be randomised to either the waiting list or CBT group (again, this will not affect your time spent in waiting lists for CBT – we will either involve you in the early stages of you care/waiting list, or later stages/when are you receiving CBT).

Visit two (first testing session; around 2.5 hours)

This visit will involve behavioural tasks to be completed on a computer and subsequently some tasks to be completed with concurrent functional magnetic resonance imaging (this will take place at 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0DS).

Visit three (second testing session; around 2.5 hours)

Following either a period of waiting list or CBT, the final visit will be identical to the first testing session. 

Please note that all data will be collected and stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Important information

The study will involve the following which may not be suitable for some:

 - fMRI – participants will need to lay still for a period of time whilst their head is in an enclosed space. This is not suitable for claustrophobic individuals or those who have issues laying on their back for an extended period of time.

 - Electric shocks – infrequent and unpredictable shocks will occur during the tasks. These are comparable to a rubber band being snapped against the skin. They have been used many times in previous projects of the group with no adverse effects and no temporary or lasting injury.

How to get involved

If you are interested, please follow the link below to our online pre-screening:https://redcap.idhs.ucl.ac.uk/surveys/?s=DRTKNPFDDT

Further details can be found on our:


Any questions should be directed to icn.cbt-study@ucl.ac.uk