Cognitive and imaging neuroscience

Why are some people susceptible to excessive cannabis use, or compulsive hoarding, washing, and checking, and others are not? Why do some people recover from heroin addiction quickly, and completely, and others face a lifetime's struggle?

To answer questions like these, researchers in our cognitive and imaging neuroscience section are investigating brain mechanisms that underpin addiction and related mental disorders.

Key to our approach is the variety of techniques we use to form a complete picture of the brain in operation.

These include standard and experimental measures of the behaviours and brain functions that play the biggest role in compulsive and addictive behaviours.

We also use advanced brain scanning techniques to measure addiction- and recovery-related changes in brain anatomy, circuits, chemistry and electrical activity. Brain scans are analysed using maths tools such as graph theory, data mining and computational modelling.

Scanning techniques are also used with TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) to turn brain circuits up and down. This provides additional insights into how the brain works, and may lead to new ways to tailor TMS to each individual in the treatment of addictive and other disorders.