Photo of Dora Duka

Dora Duka
Professor of Experimental Psychology (Psychology)
T: +44 (0)1273 678879


Research Interests

My research interests are in the cognitive and emotional mechanisms involved in drug addiction using as examples alcohol and nicotine.

In my research I try to pursue the following questions:

 How does drug and alcohol abuse (including binge drinking and multiple withdrawals) alter brain structure and function, and what are the cognitive and emotional consequences that contribute to the maintenance of addiction?

How do drug associated stimuli capture attention and control drug seeking behaviour? What are the cognitive and brain mechanisms underlying these effect?

How do variations in levels or patterns of expression of GABRA2 gene in humans predispose to stress responsiveness, and influence the ability of stressful events to mediate addictive behaviours?

What are the mechanisms mediating the effects of stress on craving for and consumption of alcohol in binge drinkers? reduced inhibitory control or increased responsiveness of reward pathways?

What are the mechanisms by which impulsivity contribute to addictive behaviours?


Current Research Support

National Institute of Health (NIH) for research on alcohol: Neurosciences Initiative on Alcoholism (INIA) Stress Consortium (PI Duka). Disinhibition as a factor mediating the effects of stress on alcohol craving

Medical Research Council  (PI Duka). Understanding alcohol’s effects on inhibition of behaviour; implications for treatment

Medical Research Council:GABAA receptors in accumbens neural circuits underlying drug abuse: a target for treatment (PI Stephens). I am the leader of Work Package 1, Human GABRA2 endophenotypes and drug of abuse

BBSRC Johnson & Johnson, Case Award  (PI Duka). The effects of stress and negative mood on expression of appetitive conditioning under conditions of reduced reward value.

European Union: Cultural and Biological influences on binge drinking – ALCOBINGE (PI Ripley). I am the leader of  Work package 1: Brain functional and structural changes in human binge drinkers; a longitudinal investigation.


Current Lab Members

Leanne Trick 

Kiki Nikolaou

Kathleen Smith

Amy Caswell

Claire Mathers

Stephens Jeffs

Katie Atwel


Previous Lab Members

Ruth Weissenborn

Julia Townshend

Lee Hogarth

Matt Field

Sarah Garfinkel

Abi Rose



University of Sussex

Dai Stephens (Psychology)

Sarah King (Psychology)

Hans Crombag (Psychology)

Zoltan Dienes (Psychology)

 Hugo Critchley (Brighton & Sussex Medical School)

Mara Cerignani (Brighton & Sussex Medical School)

Nick Dowel (Brighton & Sussex Medical School)

Other Institutes

Matt Field (Liverpool University)

Anthony Dickinson (University of Cambridge)

Steve Williams (Institute of Psychiatry, London)

Fabien Gerski (University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne)

Mickael Naassila (University of Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens)

Kathy Grant (Oregon Health and Science University)

Mary Phillips University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine,


Selected  Publications Associated with ongoing research in my lab

O'Daly, Owen G, Trick, Leanne, Scaife, Jess, Marshall, Jane, Ball, David, Phillips, Mary L, Williams, Stephen SC, Stephens, David N and Duka, Theodora (2012) Withdrawal-associated increases and decreases in functional neural connectivity associated with altered emotional regulation in alcoholism. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37 (10). pp. 2267-2276. ISSN 0893-133X

Duka, Theodora, Trick, Leanne, Nikolaou, Kyriaki, Gray, Marcus A, Kempton, Matthew J, Williams, Hugh, Williams, Steven C R, Critchley, Hugo D and Stephens, David N (2011) Unique brain areas associated with abstinence control are damaged in multiply detoxified alcoholics. Biological Psychiatry, 70 (6). pp. 545-552. ISSN 1873-2402

Duka, Theodora, Crombag, Hans S and Stephens, David N (2011) Experimental medicine in drug addiction; towards behavioural cognitive and neurobiological biomarkers biomarkers. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25. pp. 1235-55.