Dr Rebecca Lawson

University position


Dr Rebecca Lawson is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Psychology


Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute and MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit



Home page

https://www.lawsonlab.co.uk/ (personal home page)

Research Themes

Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience

Systems and Computational Neuroscience


We all have expectations about how the how the world should look, feel, smell, taste and sound. These expectations act as predictions to guide us when we are uncertain, and signal when something out of the ordinary is happening.

My work uses computational models, pharmacology and brain imaging to understand how humans learn to build adaptive expectations about the world around us, other people and ourselves.

The aim is to understand how and when predictions are realised in the brain, how these mechanisms develop in babies and how they might underlie individual differences in how the world is experienced by people with neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric conditions.

Research Focus


computational psychatry

cognitive neuroscience


mental health


Clinical conditions

Anxiety disorders


Depressive disorders


Behavioural analysis

Computational modelling


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Neuropsychological testing




Simon Baron-Cohrn

Mark Johnson

Graham Murray

Trevor Robbins

United Kingdom

Karl Friston Web: http://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/~karl/

Geraint Rees Web: https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/br...

Jonathan Roiser Web: https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/br...


Jakob Hohwy Web: http://profiles.arts.monash.edu.au/jakob-h...

Yutaka Komura Web: http://www.jst.go.jp/kisoken...

Christoph Mathys Web: https://phdcns.sissa.it/faculty...

Colin Palmer Web: https://research.unsw.edu.au/people/...

Associated News Items

    Key publications

    RP Lawson, C Mathys, G Rees (2017), “Adults with autism overestimate the volatility of the sensory environment” Nature Neuroscience

    RP Lawson, CL Nord, B Seymour, DL Thomas, P Dayan, S Pilling, J Roiser (2016), “Disrupted habenula function in major depression” Molecular Psychiatry

    RP Lawson, B Seymour, E Loh, A Lutti, RJ Dolan, P Dayan, N Weiskopf, & J Roiser (2014), “The habenula encodes negative motivational value associated with primary punishment in humans” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    RP Lawson, G Rees, KJ Friston (2014), “An aberrant precision account of autism” Frontiers in human neuroscience



    CJ Palmer, RP Lawson, S Shankar, CWG Clifford, Rees G (2018), “Autistic adults show preserved normalisation of sensory responses in gaze processing” Cortex


    C McGettigan, K Jasmin, F Eisner, ZK Agnew, OJ Josephs, AJ Calder, Jessop R, Lawson RP, Spielmann M, Scott SK (2017), “You talkin’to me? Communicative talker gaze activates left-lateralized superior temporal cortex during perception of degraded speech” Neuropsychologia

    CJ Palmer, RP Lawson, J Hohwy (2017), “Bayesian approaches to autism: Towards volatility, action, and behavior.” Psychological Bulletin


    B de Haas, DS Schwarzkopf, I Alvarez, RP Lawson, L Henriksson,de Haas, DS Schwarzkopf, I Alvarez, RP Lawson, L Henriksson, Kriegeskorte N, Rees G (2016), “Perception and processing of faces in the human brain is tuned to typical feature locations” Journal of Neuroscience

    D Rivolta, RP Lawson, R Palermo (2016), “More than just a problem with faces: altered body perception in a group of congenital prosopagnosics.” Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

    RP Lawson, AJ Calder (2016), “The “where” of social attention: Head and body direction aftereffects arise from representations specific to cue type and not direction alone” Cognitive neuroscience


    RP Lawson, J Aylward, S White, G Rees (2015), “A striking reduction of simple loudness adaptation in autism” Nature Scientific Reports

    RP Lawson, KJ Friston, G Rees (2015), “A more precise look at context in autism” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


    KJ Friston, R Lawson, CD Frith (2013), “On hyperpriors and hypopriors: comment on Pellicano and Burr” Trends in cognitive sciences

    RP Lawson, WC Drevets, JP Roiser (2013), “Defining the habenula in human neuroimaging studies” Neuroimage


    MP Ewbank, RP Lawson, RN Henson, JB Rowe, L Passamonti, AJ Calder (2011), “Changes in “top-down” connectivity underlie repetition suppression in the ventral visual pathway” Journal of Neuroscience

    RP Lawson, CWG Clifford, AJ Calder (2011), “A real head turner: Horizontal and vertical head directions are multichannel coded” Journal of Vision


    RP Lawson, CWG Clifford, AJ Calder (2009), “About turn: The visual representation of human body orientation revealed by adaptation” Psychological Science