Neural and neurochemical mechanisms underlying the regulation of emotion

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Physiology Development and Neuroscience


This project will investigate the neurochemical modulation of prefronto-amygdala and prefrontal-amygdala and prefrontal-hippoampal circuits by serotonin and dopamine, on the regulation of negative emotion in a primate. It will employ intracerebral cannulae to modulate the activity of serotonergic and dopaminergic systems, targeting specific receptors including 5-HT1a, 2a/2c and D1 and D2 in these prefrontal circuits. It will study their effects in a range of different emotional contexts including Pavlovian conditioned arousal to negative stimuli, learning based on positive and negative feedback and more complex decision making. Cardiovascular activity, and important component of the emotional response, will be measured remotely by the telemetry probe that has been inserted into the descending aorta in a single surgical operation.


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Title Novel touchscreen task examining the contribution learning from positive and negative feedback in marmoset 
Description The method aims to recapitulate some of the learning biases which are often described as a feature of affective disorders such as anxiety and depression. I have been working to develop a touchscreen task which examines the relative contributions of positive and negative feedback in the learning of a visual discrimination within a single session. Moreover, the task has been designed to resemble as closely as possible similar tasks carried out in humans (Frank et al., 2004), in order to facilitate comparisons. The task will allow us to examine whether manipulations to specific brain areas can induce learning biases, and whether these can be reversed using currently available or researched therapeutic drugs such as for example SSRIs. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - mammalian in vivo 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact We are currently in the process of improving the method and collecting data.