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Dr. Paula Banca

Biography:

I completed my MA in Psychology in 2005, at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. During the following 3 years, I worked as a clinical psychologist in an Institution for Social Solidarity while I was simultaneously studying Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Coimbra. In 2009, I started my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, at the Faculty of Medicine, Coimbra, Portugal, under the supervision of Professor Miguel Castelo-Branco. Two years later, after finishing my first neuroimaging study in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, I moved to Cambridge to work with Dr. Valerie Voon at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, where I conducted several studies in other compulsive disorders. After obtaining my PhD, in 2015, I moved back to Cambridge to work with Professor Trevor Robbins and Professor Barbara Sahakian.

Departments and Institutes

Psychology:
Research Associate

Research Interests

The inability to control inappropriate responses and flexibly adapt behaviour is a prominent feature of disorders of compulsivity. My research is aimed at understanding the neural mechanisms underlying action control with a view to develop more effective treatments in psychiatric diseases. I have a particular interest in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), although I have been also studying substance and behavioural addictions. I use psychological paradigms and neuroimaging techniques to investigate cognitive functions and different facets of compulsivity in both healthy humans and psychiatric patients.

Keywords

  • neuroimaging
  • behaviour
  • psychiatry
  • neuroscience
  • psychopharmacology

Key Publications

Banca P, Voon V, Vestergaard MD, Philipiak G, Almeida I, Pocinho F, Relvas J and Castelo-Branco M (2015). Imbalance in habitual vs. goal directed neural systems during symptom provocation in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Brain, 138(3), 798-811. Doi: 10.1093/brain/awu379.

Banca P, Vestergaard MD, Rankov V, Baek K, Mitchell S, Lapa T, Castelo-Branco M, Voon V (2015). Evidence accumulation in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: the role of uncertainty and monetary reward on perceptual decision-making thresholds. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(5),1192-202. Doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.303.

Banca P, Lange I, Worbe Y, Howell NA, Irvine M, Harrison NA, Moutoussis M, Voon V (2015). Reflection impulsivity in binge drinking: behavioural and volumetric correlates. Addiction Biology Doi: 10.1111/adb.12227.

Banca P, Sousa T, Catarina Duarte I, Castelo-Branco M (2015). Visual motion imagery neurofeedback based on the hMT+/V5 complex: evidence for a feedback-specific neural circuit involving neocortical and cerebellar regions. Journal of Neural Engineering.

Banca P, Morris LS, Mitchell S, Harrison NA, Potenza MN, Voon V (2015). Novelty, conditioning and attentional bias to sexual rewards. Journal of Psychiatric Research. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.10.017.