University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings

Ciara McCabe

  • +44 (0) 118 378 5450
  • Professor of Neuroscience, Psychopharmacology and Mental Health & University Research Fellow
    • Director: Neuroscience of Reward Group (NRG).

    • Director of Reading Scholars Programme in Psychology, University of Reading.

    • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Psychiatry, Mood and Anxiety Disorders Section.

    • University Research Fellow 

Areas of interest

Professor Ciara McCabe examines the human reward experience using behavioural techniques and brain imaging.

Professor McCabe did her PhD with Prof Leslie on the effects of anti-anxiety drugs in animal models in the Psychology Department at the University of Ulster.

She did her first post doc with Prof Nader in primate models of drug addiction in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest University, NC, USA.

She did a second post-doc with Prof Rolls on the human reward response using neuroimaging in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University.

She then worked as a research fellow with Prof Harmer and Prof Cowan on the human reward response in psychiatric disorders, using neuroimaging and psychopharmacological challenges, in the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University.

Combining her experience, she now leads the Neuroscience of Reward Group (NRG) at the University of Reading. Using neuroscience approaches NRG examines how reward processing is related to adolescent mental health symptoms and their treatment.

Collaborating with Industry, NRG also uses neuro-cognitive approaches to enhance our understanding of human behaviour in relation to the rewarding and sensory components of food and drinks.

Postgraduate supervision

Current Post Docs and PhD students: Dr Hee Kyoung Ko, Xueqing Ma, Phoenix Byrne, Angad Sahni, Sena Demir, Katie Diab

Past PhD students: Siyabend Kaya, Hanxin Zhang, Soni Chahal, Rebecca Watson, Anna-Lena Frey, Zola Dean, Alex Antonesei, Ewelina Rzepa, Felicity Cowdrey and Anna Nakamura visiting PhD from Tokyo University



  • Lecturer in cognition, learning and neuroscience
  • MSc and BSc project supervisor.

Research projects

Funding: Medical Research Council and industry funding.

Academic qualifications

  • BSc Honours Psychology, Queens University Belfast, 1998
  • PhD Psychology, University of Ulster, 2003
  • Fellow of Higher Education Authority (FHEA), 2015.

Awards and honours

  • 2022: Finalist in the Research Engagement and Impact Awards, University of Reading
  • 2019: Invited by the Royal Society to give flash talk to the 3rd UK-Japan Frontiers of Science Symposium “Computational Brain Modelling and Brain-computer Interfaces”, Chiba, Japan.
  • 2017: Invited to give "New Talent Talk" from Lundbeck Foundation, The Brain Prize Meeting, “Rewarding Neuroscience” Copenhagen.
  • 2015: Senior Non-Clinical Psychopharmacology Award: The British Association of Psychopharmacology, Bristol.
  • 2015: In Vivo Award: British Association for Psychopharmacology, Bristol.
  • 2014: In Vivo Award: British Association for Psychopharmacology, Cambridge.
  • 2012: Rafaelsen Investigator Award: The International College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Stockholm.
  • 2010: Fellowship Award: European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Amsterdam.
  • 2008: Eli Lilly (Industry) Fellowship Award: presented at the British Association for Psychopharmacology, Oxford.

Public Communication Examples


Loading your publications ...