Selina Wolke


I am in the second year of a PhD funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), after completing a MSc in Neuroimaging at the Institute of Psychiatry and a BSc in Psychology. My PhD aims to further our understanding of how depressed and manic mood relates to changes in reward and emotion processing systems in the adolescent brain. I am particularly interested in how cognitive neuroscience research can be translated into clinical practice.

I applied for the Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) studentship as it provided a learning opportunity unrivalled by other research institutions: the integration of research methods from neuroimaging to genetic epidemiology, therapeutic interventions and new approaches to treatment grounded in scientific evidence.

BSc in Psychology, University of York
MSc in Neuroimaging, King’s College London

Attend clinical assessments as part of the Mood Team at the Michael Rutter Centre for children and young people

Mechanisms of Reward in Depression and their Modulation

My PhD project aims to further elucidate the role of reward mechanisms in depression pathophysiology and pathogenesis by harnessing the potential of novel research strategies.

The first study combines neuroimaging with the pharmacological manipulation of reward processing. By using an intervention design we can explore how lurasidone, a novel drug that has previously shown to have antidepressant effects, changes neuropsychological reward processes. This information may in turn help to develop and refine new treatment targets.

The second study uses imaging data in an unselected, prospective, population-based cohort of adolescents to identify markers that distinguish depressed adolescents with and without a history of manic symptoms.

The third study uses the same community sample of adolescents to investigate the effect of psychosocial stressors on the brain’s responses to reward anticipation and outcome. Multiple risk factors are incorporated simultaneously in order to test the potential modifiability of reward processing. Moreover, the longitudinal design of this study allows us to examine whether neural reward mechanisms mediate the relation between psychosocial stressors and future depression.

More broadly, focusing on neural mechanisms in youth samples (i.e. a developmental perspective) can help build up aetiological profiles that may change throughout development.


Dr Argyris Stringaris, Dr Mitul Mehta and Professor David Mataix-Cols


Affective disorders

Developing new treatments for depression, bipolar and anxiety disorders.

Training & development

We aim to attract outstanding candidates with a range of experience and offer a variety of training schemes and secondment opportunities, spanning all academic career pathways.
News and Events