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Title: Brain mechanisms underlying sensation-seeking in humans
Author: Norbury, A. E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 4991
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Sensation-seeking is a personality trait concerned with motivation for intense and unusual sensory experiences, that has been identified as risk factor for a variety of psychopathologies with high social cost; in particular gambling and substance addictions. It has previously proved difficult to tease out neural mechanisms underlying sensation-seeking in humans, due to a lack of cognitive-behavioural paradigms probing sensation-seeking-like behaviour in the lab. The first aim of this thesis was to develop such a behavioural paradigm. Within, we present evidence from this novel task and a combination of psychopharmacological, functional imaging and computational approaches to argue that sensation-seeking behaviour in humans is driven by inter-individual differences in the activation of dopaminergic approach-withdrawal tendencies, when faced with the opportunity to experience intense and unusual sensory stimulation. In a parallel research stream, we investigate the relationship between self-reported sensation-seeking, D2-type dopamine receptor function and risky decision-making, motivated by the common implication of sensation-seeking personality and D2ergic drugs in disorders involving excessive risk-taking. Together, the findings presented here may aid investigation of various psychopathologies for which more extreme sensation-seeking scores constitute a vulnerability factor. In particular, a more precise understanding of sensation-seeking behaviour might aid in the identification of at-risk individuals and the development of individualised therapies and prevention strategies.
Supervisor: Husain, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available