The Robinson Lab focuses on the brain mechanisms underlying motivation and reward and how they come together to produce desire. Of particular interest are the role of reward-related cues in cases of exacerbated desire, and how pathological function in neural generators of reward ‘wanting’ (incentive salience) and ‘liking’ (hedonic impact) can lead to excessive motivation and addiction.
Our research program seeks to identify how intense incentive motivations are produced by brain systems, both naturally in extreme cases and less naturally but still powerfully in pathological addictions. By combining exciting novel techniques such as optogenetics with sophisticated psychological analyses of learning, ‘wanting’ and ‘liking’ in behavioral models of drug, gambling and food addiction we hope to explore the multiple facets and brain mechanisms of reward and motivation.
Our areas of interest include the role of cues in diet-induced obesity, the impact of uncertainty in gambling, and how cues produce craving in drug addiction.