Barbara Sahakian

Barbara Sahakian

Role or Position

Barbara J Sahakian is Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, and Honourary Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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Academic Background

After completing a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at The University of Cambridge, she studied for a Diploma in Clinical Psychology, became a Chartered Psychologist, and was a founder member of The Neuroethics Society.

Research Interests

She has an international reputation in the fields of cognitive psychopharmacology, neuroethics, neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry and neuroimaging. She is co-inventor of the CANTAB computerised neuropsychological tests, which are in use world-wide. She is probably best known for her research work on cognition and depression, cognitive enhancement using pharmacological treatments, neuroethics and early detection of Alzheimer's disease. Indeed, she has over 200 publications covering these topics in scientific journals, including Science, Nature Neuroscience, The Lancet, British Medical Journal, Archives of General Psychiatry, American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, the Journal of Neuroscience, Brain, Psychopharmacology and Psychological Medicine. Her current programme of research, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council, investigates the neurochemical modulation of impulsive and compulsive behaviour in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as unipolar and bipolar depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This topic was the focus of her recent paper published in Science, (vol 311, Feb. 2006, 861-863). Professor Sahakian was one of the first researchers to suggest that attentional dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease could be ameliorated using pharmacotherapy, such as cholinesterase inhibitors. In addition, she was early to highlight the cognitive changes in unipolar and bipolar depression, as well as their significance for functional outcome. In 2003, she was selected to lecture on this topic for the Teaching Day at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP). Most recently, she has introduced the importance of the concept of cognitive reserve to the field of neuropsychiatry (Psychological Medicine, 2006, 36, 1053-1064).

Research Leader in: Cognitive Enhancement; Applied Neuroethics.

Publications include

1.    Morein-Zamir, S., Sahakian, B.J. (2010), 'Neuroethics and public engagement training needed for neuroscientists,' Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14 (2), 49-51. 

2.    Beddington, J., Cooper, C.L., Field, J., Goswami, U., Huppert, F.A., Jenkins, R., Jones, H.S., Kirkwood, T.B.L., Sahakian, B.J. and Thomas, S.M. (2008), The mental wealth of nations. Nature 455: 1057-1060.

3.    Lawrence, A.J., Blackwell, A.D., Barker, R.A., Spagnolo, F., Clark, L., Aitken, M.R. and Sahakian, B.J. (2007), 'Predictors of punding in Parkinsonís disease: Results from a questionnaire survey,'  Movement Disorders 22, 2239-2345.

4.   Potter, G.G., Blackwell, A.D., McQuoid, D.R., Payne, M.E., Steffens, D.C., Sahakian, B.J., Welsh-Bohmer, H.A. and Krishnan, K.R. (2007), 'Prefrontal white matter lesions and prefrontal task impersistence in depressed and nondepressed elders,' Neuropsychopharmacology  32: 2135-2142.

5.   De Jager, C., Blackwell, A.D., Budge, M.M., Sahakian, B.J. (2005), 'Predicting cognitive decline in healthy older adults,' American. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 13: 735-740.


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