Durham University

Psychology

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Dr Niklas Ihssen

Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology

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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

Example:

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

Example:

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.

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