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Durham University



Dr Niklas Ihssen

Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology

Contact Dr Niklas Ihssen

Research Interests

My research is guided by the questions what motivates human behaviour and how motivation and reward are implemented in the neural architecture of the human brain. To study the “motivated brain”, I am using fMRI, real-time fMRI-based neurofeedback as well as behavioural techniques and computational modelling. Currently, my research focuses on:

(i) Neural processes and behavioural dynamics elicited by salient visual reward cues, for instance, pictures showing appetitive food or drugs.

See an example of this research in:

Ihssen, N., Cox, W.M., Wiggett, A., Fadardi, J.S. & Linden, D.E.J. (2011). Differentiating heavy from light drinkers by neural responses to visual alcohol cues and other motivational stimuli. Cerebral Cortex 21(6): 1408-1415.

(ii) The question whether and how visual cue reactivity, ‘wanting’ and craving can be altered by neurofeedback-guided self-regulation


Ihssen, N., Sokunbi, M. O., Lawrence, A. D., Lawrence, N. S. & Linden, D. E. J. (2017). Neurofeedback of visual food cue reactivity: a potential avenue to alter incentive sensitization and craving. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 11(3), 915-924.

(iii) Social factors affecting reward and reward learning


Ihssen, N., Mussweiler, T. & Linden, D. E. J. (2016). Observing others stay or switch - How social prediction errors are integrated into reward reversal learning. Cognition 153: 19-32.


Journal Article

Research Groups

Selected Grants

  • 2016: Flexible and habitual mechanisms of human navigation (£338813.44 from ESRC)

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