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Ciara McCabe

  • +44 (0) 118 378 5450
  • Professor of Neuroscience, Psychopharmacology and Mental Health & University Research Fellow
    • Director of Neuroimaging 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

Prof Ciara McCabe examines reward processing at the behavioural and neural level, using motivational tasks and computational modelling. Prof McCabe examines how reward relates to the symptom of anhedonia in adults and adolescents with depression and how drug treatments interact with the reward response.

Prof McCabe did her PhD on the effects of anxiolytic drugs on frustrative non-reward in animal models at the University of Ulster. She did her first post doc with Prof Nader in primate models of drug addiction at Wake Forest, NC, USA.

She then moved to the Psychology Department at Oxford University to study human neuroimaging and reward function and subsequently to the Psychiatry Department at Oxford University to work on the neuroimaging of reward in patient groups.

Prof McCabe now runs the Neuroimaging of Reward Group (NRG) at the University of Reading.

How chocolate helps us understand depression - short video (YouTube)

How chocolate helps us understand depression - public lecture 2015 (YouTube)

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD students: Siyabend Kaya, Soni Chahal, Phoenix Byrne, Hanxin Zhang, Angad Sahni, Sena Demir, Katie Diab.

Past PhD students: 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

International Recognition:

  • 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.