School of Psychology

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Helen Cassaday

Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience, Faculty of Science



Professor Helen Cassaday graduated from University College Oxford with a BA in Experimental Psychology (2.1 Hons, 1986) and went on to complete a PhD in psychopharmacology at the Institute of Psychiatry, now part of King's College London.

In 1990, she returned to the University of Oxford where she spent six years working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate. She moved to the University of Nottingham (School of Psychology) in 1996, employed initially as a lecturer, then as Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor and Reader in Behavioural Neuroscience, before being promoted to full Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience in 2016.

Expertise Summary

Professor Helen Cassaday has expertise in the fields of psychopharmacology, behavioural neuroscience and experimental psychology. Her research focuses on the underlying biology of associative learning processes which are fundamental to normal cognition. This line of research requires the use of laboratory rodents. The animal learning theories and behavioural procedures are also translated to mental health conditions in which associative processes are disordered. Her students have established associative learning procedures suitable for use with human participants, for example to test participants who have received a diagnosis of schizophrenia, Tourette syndrome or ADHD. The majority of recent publications are open access or available via the university repository (Nottingham e-Prints). Earlier articles listed on her personal webpage are available on request.

Helen has served as an Associate Editor for the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology and has extensive reviewing experience for a wide variety of journals (e.g. Behavioral Neuroscience, Journal of Psychopharmacology, Psychiatry Research, Psychopharmacology). She reviews applications to a range of funding bodies (e.g. BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, the Wellcome Trust). She has also served on a number of BBSRC panels, most recently the Bioscience for Health Strategy Panel. She sat on the British Psychological Society Research Board and Ethics Committee, as Responsibility Holder for Animal Welfare in Psychology. She was appointed to sub-panel 4 (Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience) for REF 2021 (assessment phase).

Within UoN Psychology, Helen is past Chair of the Equality and Diversity (People and Culture) Committee Co-Chair. She is now Director of Research and a member of the REF Working Group.

Teaching Summary

Module Convenor and lecturer: Addiction and the Brain (2013-present)

Lecturer: Neuroscience and Behaviour (1997-2019)

Specialist lectures for other year 1 and 2 modules: Biological Psychology, Practical Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience

Research Summary

My research examines the underlying biology of associative learning processes, fundamental to normal cognition, in laboratory rats and mice. Animal learning procedures also provide translational… read more

Selected Publications

Professor Helen Cassaday has supervised 10 PhD and numerous Masters students to successful completion. She has acted as external examiner to 10 PhD students, as well as for Masters and undergraduate programmes.

New PhD applications are welcomed. Please contact her directly for further details of available projects and see the School of Psychology website - - for up to date information on PhD studentship opportunities.

She also offer projects through the BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme -

Current Research

My research examines the underlying biology of associative learning processes, fundamental to normal cognition, in laboratory rats and mice. Animal learning procedures also provide translational evidence, relevant to our understanding of age-related cognitive decline, as well as to human diseases in which associative processes are disordered.

Further details of recent and current lab-based projects - Neural substrates of trace conditioning; Dopamine regulation of contextual fear conditioning; Dopamine and the inhibitory modulation of associative learning - are provided at the below link:

To promote translation of these findings to our understanding of human disorder, we have successfully established variants of the associative learning procedures suitable for use with human participants. We've also been working on a new scale to measure the levels of agreement/disagreement with the use of different species of animal for different purposes (such as food production, medical research, pest control). As part of the validation process, this new questionnaire will be used in outreach activities designed to promote the understanding of animal research.

School of Psychology

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