Dr Ben Seymour

Ben Seymour

University position

Clinical Research Associate

Dr Ben Seymour is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Engineering


Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute



Home page

http://www.seymourlab.com (personal home page)

Research Themes

Systems and Computational Neuroscience

Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience


My research aims to understand how pain is processed in the human brain by using a combination of theoretical and experimental methods. Our goal is to use this knowledge to design new types of (technology-based) treatment for patients who suffer from pain - the commonest cause of disability worldwide.

In particular, I develop 'systems-level' models, that aim to directly relate neural information processing to subjective perception and observable behaviour. Critically, these models yield precise predictions that can be tested in behavioural, physiological and neuroimaging experiments - my lab typically does all three. We've now managed to produce basic working simulations of the human pain system. We aim to use these to help understand clinical chronic pain.

I am working on the design of new technology-based applications, including synthetic pain systems and brain-based communication systems. I work jointly at the Center for Information and Neural Networks (CiNet) in Osaka, Japan.

Research Focus


Computational Neuroscience


Aversive Learning

Adaptive Systems


Clinical conditions



Computational modelling



Mate Lengyel

Dean Mobbs

Trevor Robbins

Valerie Voon

Daniel Wolpert

United Kingdom

Tipu Aziz Web: http://www.nds.ox.ac.uk/about-n...

Nick Chater Web: http://www.wbs.ac.uk/faculty...

Peter Dayan Web: http://dayan@gatsby.ucl.ac.uk

Ray Dolan Web: http://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/Dolan/

Alex Green Web: http://www.nds.ox.ac.uk/about-n...

Maria Joao Web: http://www.mlnl.cs.ucl.ac.uk/mjrosa/

Rosalyn Moran Web: http://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/~rmoran/

Ivo Vlaev Web: http://www1.imperial.ac.uk/medicin...

Joel Winston Web: http://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/~jwinston/


Michael Barbe Web: http://www.sanego.de/Arzt/No...

Gereon Fink Web: http://neurologie-psychiatrie.uk-koeln.de/neurolo...

Mitsuo Kawato Web: http://www.cns.atr.jp/~kawato/

Kazu Shinata Web: https://sites.google.com/site/ka...

Associated News Items

Key publications

Seymour B, O'Doherty JP, Dayan P, Koltzenburg M, Jones AK, Dolan RJ, Friston KJ, Frackowiak RS (2004), “Temporal difference models describe higher-order learning in humans.” Nature 429(6992):664-7 Details



Lawson RP, Nord CL, Seymour B, Thomas DL, Dolan RJ, Dayan P, Weiskopf N, Roiser JP (2014), “Habenula responses during appetitive and aversive conditioning in major depressive disorder.” J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 85(8):e3

Rosa MJ, Seymour B (2014), “Decoding the matrix: benefits and limitations of applying machine learning algorithms to pain neuroimaging.” Pain 155(5):864-7 Details

Story GW, Vlaev I, Seymour B, Darzi A, Dolan RJ (2014), “Does temporal discounting explain unhealthy behavior? A systematic review and reinforcement learning perspective.” Front Behav Neurosci 8:76 Details

Vlaev I, Seymour B, Chater N, Winston JS, Yoshida W, Wright N, Symmonds M, Dolan R (2014), “Prices need no preferences: Social trends determine decisions in experimental markets for pain relief.” Health Psychol 33(1):66-76 Details

Yoshida W, Seymour B (2014), “Decisions about Decisions.” Neuron 81(3):468-70 Details

Yu R, Mobbs D, Seymour B, Rowe JB, Calder AJ (2014), “The neural signature of escalating frustration in humans.” Cortex 54:165-78 Details


Dreher JC, Seymour B, Tobler PN (2013), “Punishment-based decision making.” Front Neurosci 7:236 Details

Story GW, Vlaev I, Seymour B, Winston JS, Darzi A, Dolan RJ (2013), “Dread and the disvalue of future pain.” PLoS Comput Biol 9(11):e1003335 Details

Yoshida W, Seymour B, Koltzenburg M, Dolan RJ (2013), “Uncertainty increases pain: evidence for a novel mechanism of pain modulation involving the periaqueductal gray.” J Neurosci 33(13):5638-46 Details


Seymour B (2012), “The maladaptive brain: excitable pathways to chronic pain.” Brain 135(Pt 2):316-8 Details

Seymour B, Daw ND, Roiser JP, Dayan P, Dolan R (2012), “Serotonin selectively modulates reward value in human decision-making.” J Neurosci 32(17):5833-42 Details

Seymour B, Vlaev I (2012), “Can, and should, behavioural neuroscience influence public policy?” Trends Cogn Sci 16(9):449-51 Details

Shiner T, Seymour B, Symmonds M, Dayan P, Bhatia KP, Dolan RJ (2012), “The effect of motivation on movement: a study of bradykinesia in Parkinson's disease.” PLoS One 7(10):e47138 Details

Shiner T, Seymour B, Wunderlich K, Hill C, Bhatia KP, Dayan P, Dolan RJ (2012), “Dopamine and performance in a reinforcement learning task: evidence from Parkinson's disease.” Brain Details


Daw ND, Gershman SJ, Seymour B, Dayan P, Dolan RJ (2011), “Model-based influences on humans' choices and striatal prediction errors.” Neuron 69(6):1204-15 Details


Fitzgerald TH, Seymour B, Bach DR, Dolan RJ (2010), “Differentiable neural substrates for learned and described value and risk.” Curr Biol 20(20):1823-9 Details

Pine A, Shiner T, Seymour B, Dolan RJ (2010), “Dopamine, time, and impulsivity in humans.” J Neurosci 30(26):8888-96 Details

Yoshida W, Seymour B, Friston KJ, Dolan RJ (2010), “Neural mechanisms of belief inference during cooperative games.” J Neurosci 30(32):10744-51 Details

Yu R, Mobbs D, Seymour B, Calder AJ (2010), “Insula and striatum mediate the default bias.” J Neurosci 30(44):14702-7 Details


Bach DR, Seymour B, Dolan RJ (2009), “Neural activity associated with the passive prediction of ambiguity and risk for aversive events.” J Neurosci 29(6):1648-56 Details

FitzGerald TH, Seymour B, Dolan RJ (2009), “The role of human orbitofrontal cortex in value comparison for incommensurable objects.” J Neurosci 29(26):8388-95 Details

Mobbs D, Hassabis D, Seymour B, Marchant JL, Weiskopf N, Dolan RJ, Frith CD (2009), “Choking on the money: reward-based performance decrements are associated with midbrain activity.” Psychol Sci 20(8):955-62 Details

Mobbs D, Marchant JL, Hassabis D, Seymour B, Tan G, Gray M, Petrovic P, Dolan RJ, Frith CD (2009), “From threat to fear: the neural organization of defensive fear systems in humans.” J Neurosci 29(39):12236-43 Details

Mobbs D, Yu R, Meyer M, Passamonti L, Seymour B, Calder AJ, Schweizer S, Frith CD, Dalgleish T (2009), “A key role for similarity in vicarious reward.” Science 324(5929):900 Details

Pine A, Seymour B, Roiser JP, Bossaerts P, Friston KJ, Curran HV, Dolan RJ (2009), “Encoding of marginal utility across time in the human brain.” J Neurosci 29(30):9575-81 Details

Roiser JP, de Martino B, Tan GC, Kumaran D, Seymour B, Wood NW, Dolan RJ (2009), “A genetically mediated bias in decision making driven by failure of amygdala control.” J Neurosci 29(18):5985-91 Details

Seymour B, Yoshida W, Dolan R (2009), “Altruistic learning.” Front Behav Neurosci 3:23 Details

Vlaev I, Seymour B, Dolan RJ, Chater N (2009), “The price of pain and the value of suffering.” Psychol Sci 20(3):309-17 Details


Brown CA, Seymour B, Boyle Y, El-Deredy W, Jones AK (2008), “Modulation of pain ratings by expectation and uncertainty: Behavioral characteristics and anticipatory neural correlates.” Pain 135(3):240-50 Details

Brown CA, Seymour B, El-Deredy W, Jones AK (2008), “Confidence in beliefs about pain predicts expectancy effects on pain perception and anticipatory processing in right anterior insula.” Pain 139(2):324-32 Details

Petrovic P, Pleger B, Seymour B, Klöppel S, De Martino B, Critchley H, Dolan RJ (2008), “Blocking central opiate function modulates hedonic impact and anterior cingulate response to rewards and losses.” J Neurosci 28(42):10509-16 Details

Seymour B, Dolan R (2008), “Emotion, decision making, and the amygdala.” Neuron 58(5):662-71 Details

Seymour B, McClure SM (2008), “Anchors, scales and the relative coding of value in the brain.” Curr Opin Neurobiol 18(2):173-8 Details

Talmi D, Seymour B, Dayan P, Dolan RJ (2008), “Human pavlovian-instrumental transfer.” J Neurosci 28(2):360-8 Details

Wittmann BC, Daw ND, Seymour B, Dolan RJ (2008), “Striatal activity underlies novelty-based choice in humans.” Neuron 58(6):967-73 Details


Mobbs D, Petrovic P, Marchant JL, Hassabis D, Weiskopf N, Seymour B, Dolan RJ, Frith CD (2007), “When fear is near: threat imminence elicits prefrontal-periaqueductal gray shifts in humans.” Science 317(5841):1079-83 Details

Seymour B (2007), “Research loses in hasty changes to medical training.” Nature 446(7135):492 Details

Seymour B, Daw N, Dayan P, Singer T, Dolan R (2007), “Differential encoding of losses and gains in the human striatum.” J Neurosci 27(18):4826-31 Details

Seymour B, Singer T, Dolan R (2007), “The neurobiology of punishment.” Nat Rev Neurosci 8(4):300-11 Details


Carter RM, O'Doherty JP, Seymour B, Koch C, Dolan RJ (2006), “Contingency awareness in human aversive conditioning involves the middle frontal gyrus.” Neuroimage 29(3):1007-12 Details

Daw ND, O'Doherty JP, Dayan P, Seymour B, Dolan RJ (2006), “Cortical substrates for exploratory decisions in humans.” Nature 441(7095):876-9 Details

Dayan P, Niv Y, Seymour B, Daw ND (2006), “The misbehavior of value and the discipline of the will.” Neural Netw 19(8):1153-60 Details

De Martino B, Kumaran D, Seymour B, Dolan RJ (2006), “Frames, biases, and rational decision-making in the human brain.” Science 313(5787):684-7 Details

Kalisch R, Korenfeld E, Stephan KE, Weiskopf N, Seymour B, Dolan RJ (2006), “Context-dependent human extinction memory is mediated by a ventromedial prefrontal and hippocampal network.” J Neurosci 26(37):9503-11 Details

O'Doherty JP, Buchanan TW, Seymour B, Dolan RJ (2006), “Predictive neural coding of reward preference involves dissociable responses in human ventral midbrain and ventral striatum.” Neuron 49(1):157-66 Details

Pessiglione M, Seymour B, Flandin G, Dolan RJ, Frith CD (2006), “Dopamine-dependent prediction errors underpin reward-seeking behaviour in humans.” Nature 442(7106):1042-5 Details

Seymour B (2006), “Carry on eating: neural pathways mediating conditioned potentiation of feeding.” J Neurosci 26(4):1061-2; discussion 1062 Details

Singer T, Seymour B, O'Doherty JP, Stephan KE, Dolan RJ, Frith CD (2006), “Empathic neural responses are modulated by the perceived fairness of others.” Nature 439(7075):466-9 Details


Kalisch R, Wiech K, Critchley HD, Seymour B, O'Doherty JP, Oakley DA, Allen P, Dolan RJ (2005), “Anxiety reduction through detachment: subjective, physiological, and neural effects.” J Cogn Neurosci 17(6):874-83 Details

Seymour B, O'Doherty JP, Koltzenburg M, Wiech K, Frackowiak R, Friston K, Dolan R (2005), “Opponent appetitive-aversive neural processes underlie predictive learning of pain relief.” Nat Neurosci 8(9):1234-40 Details

Wiech K, Seymour B, Kalisch R, Stephan KE, Koltzenburg M, Driver J, Dolan RJ (2005), “Modulation of pain processing in hyperalgesia by cognitive demand.” Neuroimage 27(1):59-69 Details


Singer T, Seymour B, O'Doherty J, Kaube H, Dolan RJ, Frith CD (2004), “Empathy for pain involves the affective but not sensory components of pain.” Science 303(5661):1157-62 Details