Paul-Fletcher-150x150Our work focuses on two areas of human clinical research:

The neurobiology of mental illness.

In particular, we are interested in how developments in our understanding of associative learning and motivation, can provide a basis for understanding why people with mental illnesses have unusual experiences like hallucinations.

The cognitive neuroscience of appetite and over-eating.

In collaboration with the Metabolic Research Laboratories, this work explores the ways in which environmental cues are integrated with internal homeostatic signals in order to drive and constrain eating.

The theme uniting both of these research areas concerns reinforcement learning: the collection of processes by which we come to respond to cues and contexts in order to optimise our behaviour. The successful organism is one that can predict its environment and allocate its cognitive and motor resources in order to get good things and avoid bad things. Understanding how the brain governs this process will be critical to understanding how, why and in whom it may go wrong. The work is supported by the Wellcome Trust  and the Bernard Wolfe Health Neuroscience Fund.