We use cognitive neuroscience methods including fMRI, diffusion MRI, and physiological monitoring (e.g. ECG, actigraphy), with tasks of executive function.

Our research on adaptive behavioural control currently focuses on three areas of interest.

  • Lifestyle interactions with adaptive behavioural control

    Many of us experience a number of lifestyle challenges, such as not getting enough sleep, eating a poor diet, or not exercising enough. In part, this is driven by our working lives, with long working hours often preventing us from engaging in healthier lifestyles. Ultimately this influences our adaptive behavioural control abilities, either directly, by affecting the fronto-striatal mechanisms supporting adaptive behavioural control, or indirectly, by affecting the way we feel.

    We are conducting a major new study investigating how a 4 day working week can change mind, brain, and body. With local employers, we are trialling a 4 day week, to measure how and why a reduction in time at work can help both wellbeing, and workplace performance. For more information, see the Sussex 4 Day Week Study website.

    We are also conducting a large analysis of fMRI data from the UK Biobank, to study neural markers of occupational wellbeing.

    Key publications:

    Coming soon!

  • Influence of the body on adaptive behavioural control

    Cues from the body can have a potent influence on our behaviour, acting as homeostatic guides to adapt our behaviour to the situation our body is in. For example, heartbeats can signal states of cardiovascular arousal that cue changes in motor behaviour, such as stopping actions in preparation. We perceive these bodily cues through interoception – the sensing of signals from bodily organs, such as the heart.

    We use physiological monitoring with tests of executive function to examine how interoceptive processes influence adaptive behavioural control.

    Recent publications:

    Rae CL, Ahmad A, Larsson DEO, Silva M, Gould van Praag CD, Garfinkel SN, Critchley HD. (2020). Impact of cardiac interoception cues and confidence on voluntary decisions to make or withhold action in an intentional inhibition task. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 4184. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-60405-8

    Rae CL, Botan VE, Gould van Praag CD, Herman AM, Nyyssonen JAK, Watson DR, Duka T, Garfinkel SN, Critchley HD. (2018). Response inhibition on the stop signal task improves during cardiac contraction. Scientific Reports, 8, 9136. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-27513-y

  • Adaptive behavioural control in Tourette syndrome

    Tourette Syndrome is a neurological condition in which people experience ‘unvoluntary’ movements and vocalisations, called tics. Interestingly, many people with Tourette Syndrome report uncomfortable bodily sensations preceding some of their tics, suggesting the body might have a role in cueing the production of tics.

    We use fMRI, including functional connectivity analyses, with affective and adaptive behavioural control tasks, to investigate the neural circuitry that underlies symptoms of Tourette Syndrome.

    Recent publications:

    Rae CL, Parkinson J, Betka S, Gould van Praag CD, Bouyagoub S, Polyanska L, Larsson DEO, Harrison NA, Garfinkel SN, Critchley HD. (2020). Amplified engagement of prefrontal cortex during control of voluntary action in Tourette syndrome. Brain Communications, 2(2), fcaa199. DOI: 10.1093/braincomms/fcaa199

    Rae CL, Critchley HD, Seth AK. (2019). A Bayesian account of the sensory-motor interactions underling symptoms of Tourette Syndrome. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, 29. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00029

    Rae CL, Larsson DEO, Garfinkel SN, Critchley HD. (2019). Dimensions of interoception predict premonitory urges and tic severity in Tourette Syndrome. Psychiatry Research, 271, 469-475. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.12.036

    Rae CL, Polyanska L, Gould van Praag CD, Parkinson J, Bouyagoub S, Nagai Y, Seth AK, Harrison N, Garfinkel SN, Critchley HD. (2018). Face perception enhances insula and motor network reactivity in Tourette Syndrome. Brain, 141, 3249-3261. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awy254

    Polyanska L, Critchley HD, Rae CL. (2017). Centrality of prefrontal and motor preparation cortices to Tourette Syndrome revealed by meta-analysis of task-based neuroimaging studies. Neuroimage: Clinical, 16, 257-267. DOI: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.08.004