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Professor Angela Roberts FMedSci

Neural circuits underlying the regulation and dysregulation of positive and negative emotion.
Professor Angela  Roberts, FMedSci

Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience

Angela Roberts is accepting applications for PhD students.

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

Research Interests

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 focusses on the prefrontal control of subcortical circuitry involved in processing positive and negative emotions. 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.


Professor Trevor Robbins
Professor Barry Everitt
Professor Barbara Sahakian
Dr Annette Bruhl
Dr Jeff Dalley
Professor Franklin Aigbirhio
Dr Tim Fryer
Dr Steve Sawiak
Professor John Suckling
Dr Rudolf Cardinal


Organiser of Part II Neuroscience in PDN

Organiser of Joint Course Physiology and Psychology, Part II

Lecturer in Part 1B Neurobiology of human and animal behaviour, MVST

Lecturer in Module N6, Part II PDN

Demonstrator in Part 1B Neuroanatomy practicals, MST

Key Publications

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, (1997), Dissociable forms of inhibitory control within prefrontal cortex with an analogue of the Wisconsin Card Sort Test: restriction to novel situations and independence from 'on-line' processing, J. Neuroscience, 17:9285-9297

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

Plain English

Emotions in humans and animals are regulated by circuits in the brain. These circuits process both positive and negative emotions. Our lab studies the higher order brain circuits that regulate both positive and negative emotion. This is relevant to our understanding of the heightened fear and anxiety and loss of pleasure associated with a range of disorders including not only generalised anxiety and depression but also schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Above: Serotonin innervation of orbitofrontal cortex.

Above: High Resolution structural MR images of the developing brain. Right hand column shows map of volume changes using tensor-based morphometry.

Above: Reduced Serotonin 2A receptor binding in the anterior insula associated with increased anxiety and genetic variation in the serotonin transporter.

Above: Altanserin (5-HT2a receptor) binding across the cortex. Picture courtesy of the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre.