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STRATIFY: Brain network-based stratification of reinforcement-related mental health disorders.

Project Description

Our main body of work has been concerned with the identification of neural mechanisms of reinforcement-related disorders. Here we have made seminal contributions to the field: notably, we comprehensively characterised brain activity during reward processing, including linking a novel genetic risk factor for substance abuse [8]. We also investigated the relation of reward processing to different reinforcement domains and discovered that the ventral striatum is activated by social-emotional stimuli. This activation is dependent on an oxytocin receptor genotype, indicating that oxytocin might regulate the affective valence (hedonic value) of social cue in humans [9, 10]. Decreased ventral striatal activation following social cues in carriers of the “risk” genotype resulted in greater resilience against negative life events, while leading to more social-affective problems under favourable environmental conditions. Charting the integrative nature of neural processes and observing its correlation with nuanced behaviour, we progressed from analyses focusing on specific brain regions of interest to multivariate studies measuring coordinated brain activity. We thereby identified factors integrating brain activation during behavioural control which were differentially associated with substance abuse [11]. Our work has significantly influenced this area of research: sine late 2010, we have published over 50 publications, including in Nature (2), Science (1), Nature Genetics (3), Nature Neurosciences (1), PNAS (5), Molecular Psychiatry (6), American Journal of Psychiatry (7), JAMA Psychiatry (4), Biological Psychiatry (4), PLOS Genetics (1) and other high-ranking journals (average impact factor >10).

Funding Notes

Fully funded for three years, Home/EU tuitions fees (studentship not available to Overseas applicants), annual stipend and some research and travel costs.

In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: SGDP-GS-2019

Standard PhD entry requirements: Applicants should have a Bachelors degree with 2:1 honours (or Overseas equivalent). A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters with Merit.


References must be received by the deadline for the applicant to be eligible. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

How good is research at King’s College London in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 238.88

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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