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Professor Angela Charlotte Roberts

Professor Angela Charlotte Roberts

Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Professorial Fellow, Girton College

Office Phone: (3)33763 (3)39015


Angela Roberts graduated from the University of Sussex (1981) with a degree in Neurobiology. She obtained her PhD in neuroendocrinology (1985) from the laboratory of Professor Joe Herbert, Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge. She had by then developed a strong interest in behavioural and cognitive neuroscience and so joined the Department of Experimental Psychology at Cambridge, first as a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Associate with Professor Trevor Robbins and then as a Royal Society University Research Fellow studying the neural and neurochemical basis of cognitive flexibility. She was appointed Lecturer in Department of Anatomy, Cambridge, in 1996 and became Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience in 2010. She is on the executive committee of both the Wellcome Trust/MRC funded Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute and Cambridge Neuroscience. Previously she has sat on the European Brain and Behaviour Society committee as well as the Society for Neuroscience committee for Animal research and currently sits on the Councils of the British Association of Psychopharmacology and Understanding Animals In Research. She also sits on the International Scientific Advisory Board of Brain Canada. Her research is funded by the Medical Research Council and The Wellcome Trust.

Departments and Institutes

Physiology, Development and Neuroscience:

Research Interests

I am interested in the neural circuits underlying the regulation of cognition and emotion of relevance to our understanding of a variety of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. In particular my lab focusses on the prefrontal control of subcortical circuitry involved in processing positive and negative emotions. The overall aim is to fractionate the neurocognitive circuits that underlie the regulation of emotion and to relate them to the distinct symptoms of emotion dysregulation present, not only in anxiety and depression, but also schizophrenia, autism and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. We combine a range of different experimental techniques and approaches including neuropsychopharmacology, remote measurement of cardiovascular activity, in vivo microdialysis, microPET and MRI. The lab is also interested in the relationship of activity in these neurocognitive circuits with individual differences in behavioural phenotypes, e.g. trait anxiety, and genotypes, during development as well as in adulthood.  

Key Publications

Rygula R., Clarke HF., Cardinal RN., Cockcroft GJ., Xia J., Dalley JD, Robbins TW., Roberts AC. Role of central serotonin in anticipation of rewarding or punishing outcomes: Effects of selective amygdala or orbitofrontal 5-HT depletion. (2015) Cerebral Cortex 25:3064-76

Clarke HF., Horst N., Roberts AC. Regional inactivations of primate ventral prefrontal cortex reveal two distinct mechanisms underlying negative bias in decision making. (2015) PNAS 112:4176-81.

Mikheenko Y., Shiba Y., Sawiak S., Braesicke K., Cockcroft G., Clarke H., Roberts A.C. Serotonergic, brain volume and attentional correlates of trait anxiety in primates. (2015) Neuropsychopharmacology 40:1395-404.

ClarkeHF., Cardinal RN., Rygula R., HongYT.,FryerTD., SawiakSJ., FerrariV., CockcroftGJ., AigbirhioFI., RobbinsTW., Roberts AC.  Orbitofrontal dopamine depletion up-regulates caudate dopamine and alters behavior via changes in reinforcement sensitivity. (2014) Journal of Neuroscience 34:7663-7676. 

Shiba Y., Santangelo AM., Braesicke K., Agustín-Pavón C., Cockcroft GJ., Haggard M., Roberts AC. Individual differences in behavioral and cardiovascular reactivity to emotive stimuli and their relationship to cognitive flexibility in a primate model of trait anxiety. (2014) Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8:137, 1-14. Special Research Topic: Modelling affective disorders and addiction in animals. 

Agustín-PavónC., Braesicke K., Shiba Y., SantangeloA.M., MikheenkoY., CockroftG., AsmaF., ClarkeH., ManM., RobertsA.C. Lesions of ventrolateral prefrontal or anterior orbitofrontal cortex in primates heighten negative emotion. (2012) Biological Psychiatry 72:266-272.

Hampshire A., Chaudry A.M., Owen A.M., Roberts A.C.  Dissociable roles for lateral orbitofrontal cortex and lateral prefrontal cortex during preference driven reversal learning. (2012)  Neuroimage 59:4102-4112.

Clarke H.F., Hill G.J., Robbins T.W., Roberts A.C. Dopamine, but not serotonin, regulates reversal learning in the marmoset caudate nucleus. (2011) Journal of Neuroscience 31:4290-4297.

Walker S.C., Robbins T. W., Roberts A.C.Differential contributions of dopamine and serotonin to orbitofrontal cortex function in the marmoset. (2009) Cerebral Cortex 19:889-898.

Reekie Y. L., Braesicke K., Man M., Roberts A.C. Uncoupling of behavioral and autonomic responses following lesions of the primate orbitofrontal cortex. (2008) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 105:9787-92.