Dr Benjamin Phillips


My main research interests are the neuropharmacological and computational mechanisms that support motivation and reinforcement learning and how these systems are disrupted in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.

Research Focus






Clinical conditions

Cognitive impairment


Depressive disorders

Eating disorders

Huntington's disease

Obsessive compulsive disorder

Parkinson's disease



Behavioural analysis

Computational modelling



Johan Alsiƶ

Timothy Bussey

Mona El-Sayed Hervig

Audrey Hay

Eosu Kim

Laura Lopez-Cruz

Claire O'Callaghan

Ole Paulsen

Trevor Robbins

Sujeong Yang

United Kingdom

John Apergis-Schoute Web: https://www2.le.ac.uk/departm...

Christopher Heath Web: http://www.open.ac.uk/people/...

Jemeen Sreedharan Web: https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/...


Lisa Saksida Web: http://www.tcnlab.uwo.ca/people/...

Associated News Items

    Key publications

    Phillips BU, Dewan S, Nilsson SRO, Robbins TW, Heath CJ, Saksida LM, Bussey TJ, Alsiƶ J. (in press), “Selective effects of 5-HT2C receptor modulation on performance of a novel valence-probe visual discrimination task and probabilistic reversal learning in mice.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). Apr 22.

    White MA, Kim E, Duffy A, Adalbert R, Phillips BU, Peters OM, Stephenson J, Yang S, Massenzio F, Lin Z, Andrews S, Segonds-Pichon A, Metterville J, Saksida LM, Mead R, Ribchester RR, Barhomi Y, Serre T, Coleman MP, Fallon J, Bussey TJ, Brown RH Jr, Sreedharan J. (2018), “TDP-43 gains function due to perturbed autoregulation in a Tardbp knock-in mouse model of ALS-FTD.” Nat Neurosci. Apr;21(4):552-563.



    Lim J*, Kim E*, Nyun Jong H, Shinwon K, Phillips BU, Bussey TJ, Saksida LM, Heath CJ, Kim CH (2019), “Assessment of mGluR5 KO mice under conditions of low stress using a rodent touchscreen apparatus reveals impaired behavioural flexibility driven by perseverative responses” Mol Brain.


    Aitta-aho T*, Hay YA*, Phillips BU, Paulsen O, Bussey TJ, Saksida LM, Apergis-Schoute J. (2018), “Basal forebrain and brainstem cholinergic neurons differentially impact amygdala circuits and learning-related behavior” Curr Biol

    Hailwood JM, Heath CJ, Phillips BU, Robbins TW, Saksida LM, Bussey TJ. (2018), “Blockade of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors with biperiden facilitates motivated behaviour and rescues a model of antipsychotic-induced amotivation” Neuropsychopharm

    Phillips BU, Lopez-Cruz L, Hailwood J, Saksida LM, Bussey TJ, Heath CJ. (2018), “Translational approaches to evaluating motivation in laboratory rodents: conventional and touchscreen-based procedures” Curr Opin Behav Neurosci 22:21-27

    Phillips BU, Lopez-Cruz L, Saksida LM, Bussey TJ. (2018), “Translational tests involving non-reward: methodological considerations.” Psychopharmacology (Berl).


    Aitta-Aho T, Phillips BU, Pappa E, Hay YA, Harnischfeger F, Heath CJ, Saksida LM, Bussey TJ, Apergis-Schoute J. (2017), “Accumbal Cholinergic Interneurons Differentially Influence Motivation Related to Satiety Signaling.” eNeuro. May 9;4(2). pii: ENEURO.0328-16.2017.

    Kim EW, Phillips BU, Heath CJ, Cho SY, Kim H, Sreedharan J, Song HT, Lee JE, Bussey TJ, Kim CH, Kim E, Saksida LM. (2017), “Optimizing reproducibility of operant testing through reinforcer standardization: identification of key nutritional constituents determining reward strength in touchscreens.” Mol Brain. Jul 17;10(1):31.

    Phillips BU, Heath CJ, Ossowska Z, Bussey TJ, Saksida LM. (2017), “Optimisation of cognitive performance in rodent operant (touchscreen) testing: Evaluation and effects of reinforcer strength. ” Learn Behav. Sep;45(3):252-262.


    Heath CJ, Phillips BU, Bussey TJ, Saksida LM. (2016), “Measuring Motivation and Reward-Related Decision Making in the Rodent Operant Touchscreen System.” Curr Protoc Neurosci. Jan 4;74:8.34.1-20.