Join/Contact Adcock Lab


Adcock Lab CO3F 
Levine Science Research Center
Duke University 
450 Research Dr. 
Durham, NC 27708



In a study:

1. Email to inquire about participating in a particular study or to find out which studies you may be eligible for:
You may also call (919) 681-4601 and leave a message.

2. A researcher will contact you and go over the screening questions.

3. Download and fill out any forms for your study (if necessary).

4. Bring the forms with you to the lab or to BIAC on the day of the study.

If you would like to apply as a research assistant, graduate student, orpostdoctoral fellow, then contact Dr. Alison Adcock at If you are interested in a research assistant position, please e-mail both

For Research Assistants

Do we preferentially remember what we want to remember?

Are you more likely to remember how to get to a concert you're excited to see, or how to get to the DMV?

How might excitement influence what you can learn and remember? Does your brain "edit" experience and manipulate the contents of memory depending on what matters to you? What happens if affective modulation of neural plasticity goes wrong?

Research in the Adcock lab is aimed at a multi-resolution understanding of the neural systems that permit motivational or affective states (e.g., excitement) to shape neuronal plasticity, particularly in hippocampal-dependent memory processes. Our initial studies demonstrated that even before you have an experience (e.g., seeing a picture), neural markers predict whether or not you're going to remember it - namely brain activation in neuromodulatory “pleasure” circuits and in the hippocampus. By offering participants rewards for learning, we were able to elicit these preparatory activations, which appeared prior to valuable pictures that were later remembered. We also enhanced learning.

Spurred by this finding that reward motivation can set up the brain to learn, we are currently pursuing three key lines of research at the intersection of affect and cognition. These investigations, like our initial studies, test predictions drawn from both psychology and the neurobiology of modulatory brain systems. We employ a combined approach of behavioral testing, fMRI, physiology and psychophysics to address these related questions:

I. What are the physiological mechanisms of predictive, affective neuromodulation of memory, both normal and abnormal? How do these vary across individuals, particularly as indexed by genotype?

II. What is the "grammar" of reward-motivated neuromodulation of neural plasticity? How do the mechanisms differ in explicit vs. implicit learning? How does reward-motivated learning differ from aversion-based learning? How does affective neuromodulation of plasticity influence perception?

III. How can we manipulate these mechanisms "on the fly", via psychology and biology? Can we use these manipulations to enhance learning-based therapies? To enhance education and persuasion?

The Adcock lab has positions available for undergraduate research assistants who are eager to participate in this exciting field of study, and who are looking to gain the valuable experience of working first-hand in a cognitive neuroscience research laboratory. If you are interested, please email both alison.adcock@duke.eduand Include information regarding your name and contact information, area of concentration, previous research experience, and a brief paragraph describing your reasons for applying. Please include any questions you may have, as well. 


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