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The Neuropharmacology group is headed by Dr. Mitul Mehta who trained in Cambridge University and Imperial College (Hammersmith Hospital) before joining the Institute of Psychiatry in 2003. His work on the dopamine system was recognised by the British Association for Psychopharmacology with a young investigator’s award in 2005 and he is currently an advisory editor for the journal Psychopharmacology.


The aim of the Neuropharmacology group is to utilise brain imaging methodology to understand how drugs affect neurophysiology, cognition and behaviour. There are three main arms to our research. 

  1. Methodological development. Psychopharmacological agents not only affect brain function, but also brain haemodynamics. Because in vivo measurement of brain function using fMRI relies on the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) effect, results of drug studies could reflect a combination of neural and vascular influences. By utilising the latest developments in perfusion imaging and assessment of vascular reactivity (with Dr. Fernando Zelaya) along with other techniques greater precision and more accurate interpretation of drug effects can be achieved.
    In collaboration with the analysis section we are improving the analytical tools which we apply to psychopharmacological imaging studies, including the incorporation of multivariate analysis tools.
  2. Cognitive psychopharmacology. The mechanisms by which drugs used in psychiatry alter cognitive function are poorly understood. By combining careful task design with improved image acquisition and analysis methodology we aim to enhance the mechanisms through which drugs alter behaviour. 
  3. Novel mechanisms. The number and range of compounds available for human research is small in relation to the systems theoretically available for modulation in the human brain. The use of novel compounds and combinations can plug important gaps in our knowledge when combined with in vivo human neuroimaging. Much of this work requires close collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry, including clinical trials.

Group Members

Dr. Orla Doyle

Dr. Mitul Mehta

Dr. Owen O'Daly

Ms Stephanie Stephenson

Current PhD Students

Richard Joules (from October 2011)

Previous PhD Students

Dr Sara De Simoni (2009-2012)

Dr. Andre Marquand (2011)

Dr. Yannis Paloyelis (2010)

Dr. Nicholas Walsh (2006)

Principal Collaborators

Professor Mick Brammer (Department of Neuroimaging)

Dr. Fernando Zelaya (Department of Neuroimaging)

Dr. Quinton Deeley (Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science)

Dr. Oliver Howes (Imperial College, London)

Dr. Laurence Reed (Imperial College, London)

Dr. Adam Schwarz (Eli Lilly)


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