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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Professor Caroline Brennan


Interim Head of School, Professor of Molecular Genetics

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 6357
Room Number: Room 3.22, Fogg Building

Undergraduate Teaching

Teaches on the following modules:

  • Essential Skills for Psychologists (Tutorials) (PSY100)
  • Brain and Behaviour (PSY121)


Research Interests:

We are interested in the molecular mechanisms controlling behaviour. We are particularly interested in endophenotypes associated with psychological disease including drug addiction and dementia. We use zebrafish as our model system combining behavioural analysis, imaging and cell biology techniques in wild type, mutant and transgenic lines to investigate the neural correlates of reward and learning behaviours. 

Behavioural Phenotypes

  1. Drug dependence
    We have developed zebrafish assays of reward seeking, compulsive behaviour and relapse (Kily et al, 2008, Brennan et al, 2010, Brennan 2011) as well as an assay of impulsivity (Parker et al 2011, 2014) which in mammals predicts tendency to relapse. We use these assays in forward and reverse genetic screens to identify molecular mechanisms underlying the behaviours and to explore the effects of developmental exposure to drugs of abuse. We are in the process of generating commercial automated version of our assay systems.

  2. Learning and Attention
    We have automated two choice discrimination assays that we use to assess learning and attention in the various zebrafish lines. In addition, our n choice serial reaction time assay (Parker et al 2011) can be used to assess attention in zebrafish. These assays are used to screen mutant lines and, in collaboration with Dr John Viles (QMUL) the pathology of beta-amyloid induced dementia.  


Imaging analysis is performed in collaboration with Dr Rachel Ashworth (SMD, QMUL). Rachel has over 10 years experience in the analysis of Ca2+ transients in zebrafish. We use analysis of GFP transgenic lines and gCaMP reporter lines to relate neural activity and network formation to behaviour.

Research department


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