R. Alison Adcock, M.D., Ph.D.

Photo of R. Alison Adcock

Phone: 919-681-7486

B253 Levine Science Research Center
Duke University
Box 90999
Durham, NC 27708

Email: alison DOT adcock AT duke DOT edu

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Assistant Professor

Center for Cognitive Neuroscience

Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine

DIBS Faculty, Member, DIBS Executive Board, Member, DIBS Center, D-CIDES Member

Research Description

My research explores the intersection between motivation, emotion, and memory. A fundamental brain function is to generate predictive models of the world. The fidelity of those neural models and their ability to support adaptive behavior is critically dependent on whether and how experience is recorded - and whether neural records remain viable. I am interested in understanding how internal states like excitement, desire, and craving shape long-term memory, giving some experiences more power than others to affect future behavior. To understand these interactions, we study the brain systems that release modulatory neurotransmitters: environmental stimuli that turn them on, their effects on plasticity in other brain regions, and ultimately our ability to control them. Research in my laboratory uses primarily functional neuroimaging but draws broadly from neuroscience. By understanding the neurobiology of powerful memories, we hope to understand how to enhance cognitive and behavioral change.


Psychiatry Residency, University of California, San Francisco

M.D., Yale University

Ph.D., Yale University

B.A., Emory University

Recent Publications

Murty, VP, LaBar, KS, Adcock, RA. Threat of punishment motivates memory encoding via amygdala, not midbrain, interactions with the medial temporal lobe. Journal of Neuroscience. June 27, 2012. 32(26):8969-8976.

Murty, VP, LaBar, KS, Hamilton, DA, Adcock, RA. Is all motivation good for learning: Dissociable influences of approach and avoidance motivation in declarative memory. Learning and Memory. 2011 18: 712-717.

Ballard, IC, Murty, VP, Carter, RM, MacInnes, JJ, Huettel, SA, Adcock RA. Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex drives mesolimbic dopaminergic regions to initiate motivated behavior. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(28):10340-10346, 2011.

Research Areas

Research Topics

  • Neuromodulation of long term memory
  • Neuroimaging as a tool for enhancing cognitive and behavioral change
  • Schizophrenia & Depression