About the lab

The overarching goal of our research is to better understand the psychological processes that underlie a range of clinically relevant behaviours. Rather than classifying individuals based on collections of overt symptoms, we focus on endophenotypes – neurocognitive processes associated with discrete deficits in defined neural systems. For example, individual differences in inhibitory control have been shown to be a feature of ADHD and of addictive behaviours. In order to study these endophenotypes, we employ non-invasive methods of measuring brain function in vivo, including magnetic resonance imaging, high-density electroencephalography, and behavioural assays of neurocognitive functioning (we have also started to collect the latter using online methods). Our research sometimes includes an intervention, such as neurofeedback or using an eHealth platform. We often then use machine learning to integrate these brain measures with genetic data, information on social relationships and on life history to build a more complete picture of the influences on behaviour. Ultimately, we hope our research will result in better treatments, either psychological and/or pharmacological, for individuals.

Research Projects

There are four streams of research in this lab: Addiction, ADHD, Ageing and Methods. Addiction investigates the changes in brain, and behaviour due to smoking, alcohol, and cannabis use. ADHD examines the neurocognitive profile, genetics, and anxiety of the disorder. Ageing explores the neurocognitive changes that occur in old age, as well as risk factors for cognitive impairment and dementia. Methods focus on computational modelling, and machine learning in terms of EEG and MRI.

Selected Publications

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More Publications

Neuropsychosocial profiles of current and future adolescent alcohol misusers

Nature, 512(7513): 185—189, 2014
Whelan, Robert and Watts, Richard and Orr, Catherine A and Althoff, Robert R and Artiges, Eric and Banaschewski, Tobias and Barker, Gareth J and Bokde, Arun LW and Büchel, Christian and Carvalho, Fabiana M and others
Publisher's website

Adolescent impulsivity phenotypes characterized by distinct brain networks

Nature neuroscience, 15(6): 920—925, 2012
Whelan, Robert and Conrod, Patricia J and Poline, Jean-Baptiste and Lourdusamy, Anbarasu and Banaschewski, Tobias and Barker, Gareth J and Bellgrove, Mark A and Büchel, Christian and Byrne, Mark and Cummins, Tarrant DR and others
Publisher's website

The potential of neuroimaging for identifying predictors of adolescent alcohol use initiation and misuse

Addiction, 112(4): 719—726, 2017
O’Halloran, Laura and Nymberg, Charlotte and Jollans, Lee and Garavan, Hugh and Whelan, Robert
Publisher's website

Funding Institutions