Rachel Alison Adcock

Rachel Alison Adcock

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Yale University 1999

  • M.D., Yale University School of Medicine 1999


Dr. Adcock received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Emory University and her MD and PhD in Neurobiology from Yale University.  She completed her psychiatry residency training at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute at UC-San Francisco and did neurosciences research as a postdoctoral fellow at UC-SF, the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and Stanford before joining the Duke faculty in 2007. Her work has been funded by NIDA, NIMH, NSF and Alfred P. Sloan and Klingenstein Fellowships in the Neurosciences, and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, and honored by NARSAD awards, the 2012 National Academy of Sciences Seymour Benzer Lectureship, and the 2015 ABAI BF Skinner Lectureship. The overall goals of her research program are to understand how brain systems for motivation support learning and to use mechanistic understanding of how behavior changes biology to meet the challenge of developing new therapies appropriate for early interventions for mental illness.


Memory, motivation, neuroscience, dopamine

Murty, Vishnu P., et al. “Selectivity in post-encoding connectivity with high-level visual cortex is associated with reward-motivated memory.J Neurosci, Dec. 2016. Pubmed, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4032-15.2016. Full Text

Murty, Vishnu P., et al. “Distinct medial temporal networks encode surprise during motivation by reward versus punishment.Neurobiol Learn Mem, vol. 134 Pt A, Oct. 2016, pp. 55–64. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.nlm.2016.01.018. Full Text

Wang, C., et al. “Disrupted salience network functional connectivity and white-matter microstructure in persons at risk for psychosis: findings from the LYRIKS study.Psychol Med, vol. 46, no. 13, Oct. 2016, pp. 2771–83. Pubmed, doi:10.1017/S0033291716001410. Full Text

MacInnes, Jeff J., et al. “Cognitive Neurostimulation: Learning to Volitionally Sustain Ventral Tegmental Area Activation.Neuron, vol. 89, no. 6, Mar. 2016, pp. 1331–42. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2016.02.002. Full Text

McClernon, F. Joseph, et al. “Hippocampal and Insular Response to Smoking-Related Environments: Neuroimaging Evidence for Drug-Context Effects in Nicotine Dependence.Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 41, no. 3, Feb. 2016, pp. 877–85. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/npp.2015.214. Full Text

Chiew, Kimberly S., et al. “Reward Anticipation Dynamics during Cognitive Control and Episodic Encoding: Implications for Dopamine.Front Hum Neurosci, vol. 10, 2016, p. 555. Pubmed, doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00555. Full Text

Murty, Vishnu P., et al. “Resting state networks distinguish human ventral tegmental area from substantia nigra.Neuroimage, vol. 100, Oct. 2014, pp. 580–89. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.06.047. Full Text

Murty, Vishnu P., and R. Alison Adcock. “Enriched encoding: reward motivation organizes cortical networks for hippocampal detection of unexpected events.Cereb Cortex, vol. 24, no. 8, Aug. 2014, pp. 2160–68. Pubmed, doi:10.1093/cercor/bht063. Full Text

Kollins, Scott H., and R. Alison Adcock. “ADHD, altered dopamine neurotransmission, and disrupted reinforcement processes: implications for smoking and nicotine dependence.Progress in Neuro Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, vol. 52, July 2014, pp. 70–78. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2014.02.002. Full Text


Selected Grants

Characterizing Neural Mechanisms of Cognitive Control awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2010 to 2019

Basic predoctoral training in neuroscience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Training Faculty). 1992 to 2018

Connectivity of the Dopaminergic Midbrain During Learned Regulation of Intrinsic Motivation awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2017

BRAIN EAGER: Bayesian Models of Translational Neural Networks: Motivation and Reward awarded by National Science Foundation (Advisor). 2014 to 2017

Acute and chronic nicotine modulation of reinforcement learning awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Mentor). 2013 to 2017

A Compute Cluster for Brain Imaging and Analysis awarded by National Institutes of Health (Minor User). 2016 to 2017

Motivated Memory as Therapeutic Target awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2017

Instructed Activation of the Human Dopaminergic Midbrain using Real-Time fMRI awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2016

Training in Fundamental &Translational Neuroscience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Training Faculty). 2005 to 2016

Brain Imaging Studies of Negative Reinforcement in Humans awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2009 to 2015