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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



Angela Roberts received her degree in Neurobiology from the University of Sussex (1981) and her PhD in neuroendocrine control of reproduction from the University of Cambridge (1985) under the supervision of Joe Herbert in the Department of Anatomy. She stayed on in Cambridge and did her postdoctoral training in the Department of Experimental Psychology with Trevor Robbins where she held a Royal Society Research Fellowship from 1992-96. She then took up a teaching appointment in the Department of Anatomy and there began her studies on the prefrontal control of emotion regulation. Currently she undertakes the scientific leadership of the marmoset research centre at Cambridge and is Chair of the steering committee for a new Laboratory of Translational Neuroimaging. She also sits on the Executive committee of Cambridge Neuroscience.

She is currently an associate editor for Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, a field Editor for the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology and sits on the Advisory Board for Neuron. She has sat on the Council for European Brain and Behavior Society (2000-2002) and British Association of Psychopharmacology (2015-2019). In 2016 she was elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences and has been awarded the 2020 Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience jointly with Robert Desimone at MIT. 


I am interested in the neural circuits underlying the regulation of cognition and emotion of relevance to our understanding of a variety of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. In particular, my lab focuses on the prefrontal cortex and  subcortical circuitry involved in processing positive and negative emotions, both in adulthood and more recently in development. The overall aim is to fractionate the neurocognitive circuits that underlie the regulation of emotion and to relate them to the distinct symptoms of emotion dysregulation present, not only in anxiety and depression, but also schizophrenia, autism and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. We combine a range of different experimental techniques and approaches including neuropsychopharmacology, remote measurement of cardiovascular activity, in vivo microdialysis, microPET and MRI. The lab is also interested in the relationship of activity in these neurocognitive circuits with individual differences in behavioural phenotypes, e.g. trait anxiety, and genotypes, during development as well as in adulthood.

Currently funded by an MRC Programme Grant and a WT Investigator award.

Current Lab members:

Dr Christian Wood

Dr Kevin Mulvihill

Dr Arek Stasiak

Dr Stacey Gould

Mrs Gemma Cockcroft (RA)

Mrs Lauren McIver (RA)


Graduate Students:

Ms Taylor Lynn-Jones

Ms Xinhu Zhang

Ms Aradna Garcia-Vergara

Ms Jessica Phan (NIH-OxCam)

Ms Spatika Jayaram (Gates Scholar)

Ms Martina Fort



Professor Trevor Robbins

Professor Barry Everitt

Dr Steve Sawiak

Dr Jeff Dalley

Dr Rudolf Cardinal

Dr Hannah Clarke

Dr Judith Burkhart (Zurich)

Dr Eduardo Gascon-Gonzalo (Marseille)



Key publications: 

Wood C.M., Alexander L., Alsio J., Santangelo A.M., McIver L., Cockcroft G., Roberts A.C. Chemogenetic parsing of primate subcallosal area 25 networks involved in reward, threat and treatment responses (2023). Science Translational Medicine 15:1779

Duan L.J., Horst N.K., Cranmore S.A.W., Horiguchi N., Cardinal R.N., Roberts A.C., Robbins T.W. Controlling ones' world: identification of subregions of primate PFC underlying goal-directed behavior (2021) Neuron 109:1-14

Alexander L., Wood C.M., Gaskin P.R.L., Sawiak S.J., Fryer T.D., Hong Y.T., McIver L., Clarke H.F., Roberts A.C. Over-activation of primate subgenual cingulate cortex enhances the cardiovascular, behavioural and neural responses to threat (2020) Nature Communications 11:5386

Stawicka, Z.M., Massoudi R., Horst, N.K.,  Koda, K., Alexander L., Gaskin, P.R.L., Santangelo A.M., Anderson L., Cockcroft G.J., Wood C.M., Roberts A.C. Ventromedial prefrontal area 14 provides opposing regulation of threat and reward-elicited responses in the common marmoset (2020)  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117: 25116-25127

Roberts, A.C. Prefrontal Regulation of Threat-Elicited Behaviors: A Pathway to Translation. (2020) Annual Review of Psychology 71:20.1–20.31.

Santangelo A.M., Sawiak S., Fryer T., Hong Y., Shiba Y., Clarke H.F., Riss P.J., Ferrari V., Tait R., Suckling J. Aigbirhio F.I., and Roberts A.C. Insula serotonin 2A receptor binding and gene expression contribute to serotonin transporter polymorphism anxious phenotype in primates (2019) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences16:14761-14768 

Roberts, A.C., Clarke, H.F. (2019) Why we need non-human primates to study the role of ventromedial prefrontal cortex in the regulation of threat and reward elicited responses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116:26297-26304.

Alexander, A., Clarke, H.F., Roberts, A.C. A Focus on the functions of area 25. (2019) Brain Sciences 9:129.

Alexander L., Gaskin P., Sawiak S.J., Fryer T., Hong Y.T., Cockcroft G., Clarke H.F., Roberts A.C. Fractionating anhedonia by over-activating area 25 of primate subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (2019) Neuron 101:307-320.

Sawiak S.J., Shiba Y., Oikonomidis L., Windle C.P., Santangelo A.M., Grydeland H., Cockcroft G., Bullmore E.T*., Roberts A.C.*   Trajectories and milestones of cortical and subcortical development of the marmoset brain from infancy to adulthood.  (2018) Cerebral Cortex 28:4440-4453.  

Shiba Y., Oikonomidis L., Sawiak S., Fryer T.D., Hong Y.T., Cockcroft G., Santangelo A.M., Roberts A.C. Converging Prefronto-Insula-Amygdala Pathways in Negative Emotion Regulation in Marmoset Monkeys. (2017) Biological Psychiatry 82:895-903.   

Wallis C.U., Cardinal R. N., Alexander L., Roberts A.C., Clarke H.F. Opposing roles of primate areas 25 and 32 and their putative rodent homologs in the regulation of negative emotion. (2017) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114:E4075-4084.  

Santangelo, A.M. Ito, M., Shiba, Y., Clarke H.F., Schut E.H.S. Cockroft G., Ferguson-Smith A.C., Roberts A.C. Novel primate model of serotonin transporter genetic polymorphisms associated with gene expression, anxiety and sensitivity to antidepressants. (2016) Neuropsychopharmacology 41:2366-76.

Clarke HF, Horst N, Roberts AC, (2015), Regional inactivations of primate ventral prefrontal cortex reveal two distinct mechanisms underlying negative bias in decision making, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112:4176-81

Shiba Y, Kim C, Santangelo AM, Roberts AC, (2015), Lesions of either anterior orbitofrontal cortex or ventrolateral prefrontal cortex in marmoset monkeys heighten innate fear and attenuate active coping behaviors to predator threat, Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 8:250,1-15. Special Research Topic: Structural and functional organization of the prefrontal cortex

Mikheenko Y, Shiba Y, Sawiak S, Braesicke K, Cockcroft G, Clarke H, Roberts AC, (2015), Serotonergic, brain volume and attentional correlates of trait anxiety in primates, Neuropsychopharmacology, 40:1395-404

Rygula R, Clarke HF, Cardinal RN, Cockcroft GJ, Xia J, Dalley JW, Robbins TW, Roberts AC, (2014), Role of Central Serotonin in Anticipation of Rewarding and Punishing Outcomes: Effects of Selective Amygdala or Orbitofrontal 5-HT Depletion, Cereb Cortex 2014 May 30. pii: bhu102 [Epub ahead of print]

Shiba Y, Santangelo AM, Braesicke K, Agustín-Pavón C, Cockcroft GJ, Haggard M, Roberts AC, (2014), Individual differences in behavioral and cardiovascular reactivity to emotive stimuli and their relationship to cognitive flexibility in a primate model of trait anxiety, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 8:137, 1-14

Agustín-Pavón C, Braesicke K, Shiba Y, Santangelo AM, Mikheenko Y, Cockroft G, Asma F, Clarke H, Man M, Roberts AC, (2012), Lesions of ventrolateral prefrontal or anterior orbitofrontal cortex in primates heighten negative emotion, Biological Psychiatry, 72:266-272

Hampshire A, Chaudry AM, Owen AM, Roberts AC, (2012), Dissociable roles for lateral orbitofrontal cortex and lateral prefrontal cortex during preference driven reversal learning, Neuroimage, 59:4102-4112

Roberts AC, (2011), The importance of serotonin for orbitofrontal function, Biological Psychiatry, 69:1185-1191

Clarke HF, Hill GJ, Robbins TW, Roberts AC, (2011), Dopamine, but not serotonin, regulates reversal learning in the marmoset caudate nucleus, Journal of Neuroscience, 31:4290-4297

Mikheenko Y, Man M-S, Braesicke K, Johns ME, Hill G, Agustín-Pavón C, Roberts AC, (2010), Autonomic, behavioural and neural analyses of mild conditioned negative affect in the common marmoset, Behavioural Neuroscience, 124:192-203

Rygula R, Walker S, Clarke H, Robbins TW, Roberts AC, (2010), Differential contributions of the primate ventrolateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex to serial reversal learning, Journal of Neuroscience, 30:14552-14559

Walker SC, Robbins TW, Roberts AC, (2009), Response disengagement on a spatial self-ordered sequencing task: effects of regionally selective excitotoxic lesions and serotonin depletion within the prefrontal Cortex, Journal of Neuroscience, 29:6033-6041

Walker SC, Robbins TW, Roberts AC, (2009), Differential contributions of dopamine and serotonin to orbitofrontal cortex function in the marmoset, Cerebral Cortex, 19:889-898

Man MS, Clarke HF, Roberts AC, (2009), The role of the orbitofrontal cortex and medial striatum in the regulation of prepotent responses to food rewards, Cerebral Cortex, 19:899-906

Reekie YL, Braesicke K, Man M, Roberts AC, (2008), Uncoupling of behavioral and autonomic responses following lesions of the primate orbitofrontal cortex, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105:9787-9792

Clarke HF, Walker SC, Dalley JW, Robbins TW, Roberts AC, (2007), Cognitive inflexibility after prefrontal serotonin depletion is behaviourally and neurochemically specific, Cerebral Cortex, 17:18-27

Roberts AC, Reekie Y, Braesicke K, (2007), Synergistic and regulatory effects of orbitofrontal cortex on amygdala-dependent appetitive behavior, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1121:297-319

Clarke HF, Dalley JW, Crofts HS, Robbins TW, Roberts AC, (2004), Cognitive inflexibility after prefrontal serotonin depletion, Science, 7:878-880

Arana FS, Parkinson JA, Hinton E, Holland AJ, Owen AM, Roberts AC, (2003), Dissociable contributions of the human amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex to incentive motivation and goal selection, Journal of Neuroscience, 23:9632-9638

Crofts HS, Dalley JW, Collins P, Van Denderen JCM, Everitt BJ, Robbins TW, Roberts AC, (2001), Differential effects of 6-OHDA lesions of the frontal cortex and caudate nucleus on the ability to acquire an attentional set, Cerebral Cortex, 11:1015-1026

Dias R, Robbins TW, Roberts AC, (1996), Dissociation in prefrontal cortex of affective and attentional shifting, Nature, 380:69-72

Teaching and Supervisions


Organiser of Part II Neuroscience in PDN
Lecturer in Part 1B Neurobiology of human and animal behaviour, MVST
Organiser and Lecturer in Module N6, Part II PDN
Demonstrator in Part 1B Neuroanatomy practicals, MST

Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience
Professorial Fellow, Girton College
Picture of Professor Angela   Roberts

Contact Details

+44 (0) 1223 333763, Fax: +44 (0) 1223 333786
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