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Dr Oliver Robinson
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
  • MRC Non-Clinical Research Fellow
  • Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

Oliver Robinson is an MRC Career Development Award Fellow based at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, UK. Prior to that he spent 5 years as a visiting research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA. He received a double first BA in Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge, UK and a Ph.D. in Psychiatry and Neuroscience from the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, UK.  

Research Summary

For more details visit my lab website: www.oliverjrobinson.com

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.

Teaching Summary

I teach undergraduate medics and on ICN and Anna Freud Centre Masters programmes

Academic Background
2009 MA Cantab MA Cantab – Neuroscience University of Cambridge
2009 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Neuroscience University of Cambridge
2005 BA Bachelor of Arts – Neuroscience University of Cambridge
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