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 Lucy Lewis

Lucy Lewis

Research student, School of Psychology

T2.16, Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT


Research summary

My research aims to isolate the cognitive, motivational and hedonic aspects of reward processing and elucidate their neurobiological underpinnings. Disruptions to reward processing are often reported as key symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression, and thus the development and application of appropriate methods to measure these behaviours is essential to elucidate the neurobiological mechanisms underpinning disruptions in reward processing. My work focuses on the effects of stress and the immune system on these isolated behaviours.


2017 – 2021: BBSRC-funded SWBio DTP, Cardiff University.
2017 – 2018: Distinction, SWBio DTP Taught First Year (MRes), Bristol University.
2013 – 2017: 1st Class BSc (Hons) Biomedical  Sciences (Neuroscience), Cardiff University.
2015 – 2016: Professional Training Year in the Brain Repair Group, Cardiff University.


2018 - Present: Vice-Chair & Communications Officer, Postgraduate Cardiff Neuroscience Society (PCNS).
2016 - Present: STEM ambassador. Activities include: Cheltenham Science Festival, Brain Activities Day, Brain Games.
2018 - Present: e-Mentor, The Mullany Fund.
2018 - 2020: Contributing author and editor, The Brain Domain.

HelloBio Interview

Blog Contribution - British Society of Gene and Cell Therapy


Research interests

Current Research

Processing  and responding to rewards is an essential aspect of maintaining our health and wellbeing, as disruptions to reward processing can be seen across a range of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.
Maintaining normal reward processing involves an interaction of affective responses (hedonic experience, i.e. "pleasure"), cognition (e.g. learning appropriate representations of rewards in the environment), and motivation (e.g. the ability to alter responses to rewards based on current biological needs).

My PhD aims to isolate these three aspects of reward processing and elucidate the neurobiological substrates underpinning each of these separately. My aim is to increase our understanding of how individual symptoms of psychiatric disorders may arise from disruptions to reward processing.
To do this, I use a combination of behavioural assays of rodent behaviour, including the affective bias test (ABT) developed in Bristol University, microstructural analysis of consumption, and the effort-related choice paradigm. Using pharmacological manipulations and histological analyses, we can pinpoint the neurobiological substrates normally contributing to each individual aspect, to identify target areas and systems that may be involved in the development of specific psychiatric disturbances.

My research focuses on the effects of stress and the immune system on the development of anhedonia, amotivation and negative affective biases. Thus I use these behavioural assays to examine how pharmacological manipulators of stress and immune system pathways may cause reward processing deficits, and aim to investigate whether we can rescue these deficits by targeting neurobiological substrates identified through biochemical and histological analyses.



Awarded a travel bursary for the  BNA 2019

Research group & collaborators

Behavioural Neuroscience

Professor Dominic Dwyer

Professor Emma Robinson (Bristol University)

Professor Mark Good

Past Experience

June - September 2017: Research Assistant, Brain Repair Group, Cardiff University.

September 2015 - June 2016: Professional Training Year, Brain Repair Group, Cardiff University.
Title: Optimising cell replacement therapy for rodent lesion models of Parkinson's disease.
- Experience using a combination of motor tests, immunohistochemical analyses, MRI and PET imaging to investigate functionality, survival and molecular characterisation of foetal-derived and embryonic stem cell-derived dopaminergic neuron transplants.


Postgraduate Tutor, School of Psychology (2018 - 2020):
Delivering tutorials to first year psychology undergraduates aiming to improve writing of practical reports.
Includes marking practical reports and exam scripts.

Laboratory Demonstrator, School of Biosciences (2017 - 2021):
Liver enzyme assays
Urea assays
Muscle contraction

Practical skills measures

Marking of practical reports, School of Biosciences (2020-21):
Marking of reports relating to biochemical assays such as measurement of proteinuria in patient samples.


Behavioural analysis of cognitive, motivational and hedonic aspects of reward processing.

Funding source