Rachel Alison Adcock

Rachel Alison Adcock

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

External Address: 
Center for Cognitive Neuroscie, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90999, Durham, NC 27708-0999


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.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Yale University 1999

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

Selected Grants

Neurobiology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2019 to 2024

Duke CTSA (TL1) awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2018 to 2023

Medical Scientist Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Steering Committee Member). 1997 to 2022

Increasing Motivation in ADHD Via Self-activation of VTA awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2021

Targeting reward dysfunction as a mechanism to improve smoking cessation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Mentor). 2016 to 2021

Instructed Activation of the Human Dopaminergic Midbrain Using Real-Time fMRI in Nicotine-Dependent Individuals awarded by Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2020

Smoking/Nicotine Dependence in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2017 to 2020

Modeling the Neurobehavioral Basis of Extrinsic and Volitional Motivation in ADHD awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2020

Environment Cue-Reactivity: Brain, Behavior and Clinical Outcomes in Tobacco Use awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2020


Murty, V. P., and R. A. Adcock. “Distinct medial temporal lobe network states as neural contexts for motivated memory formation.” The Hippocampus from Cells to Systems: Structure, Connectivity, and Functional Contributions to Memory and Flexible Cognition, 2017, pp. 467–501. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-50406-3_15. Full Text

Wang, Chenhao, et al. “Large-Scale Network Topology Reveals Heterogeneity in Individuals With at Risk Mental State for Psychosis: Findings From the Longitudinal Youth-at-Risk Study.Cereb Cortex, vol. 28, no. 12, Dec. 2018, pp. 4234–43. Pubmed, doi:10.1093/cercor/bhx278. Full Text

Chiew, Kimberly S., et al. “Motivational valence alters memory formation without altering exploration of a real-life spatial environment.Plos One, vol. 13, no. 3, 2018, p. e0193506. Pubmed, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0193506. Full Text

Dickerson, Kathryn, and R. Alison Adcock. “Motivation and Memory.” Stevens’ Handbook of Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2018. Manual, doi:10.1002/9781119170174.epcn107. Full Text

Horne, Alexandra J., et al. “Relating Sensory, Cognitive, and Neural Factors to Older Persons' Perceptions about Happiness: An Exploratory Study.J Aging Res, vol. 2018, 2018, p. 4930385. Pubmed, doi:10.1155/2018/4930385. Full Text Open Access Copy

MacDuffie, Katherine E., et al. “Single session real-time fMRI neurofeedback has a lasting impact on cognitive behavioral therapy strategies.Neuroimage Clin, vol. 19, 2018, pp. 868–75. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2018.06.009. Full Text

Scult, Matthew A., et al. “Individual differences in regulatory focus predict neural response to reward.Soc Neurosci, vol. 12, no. 4, Aug. 2017, pp. 419–29. Pubmed, doi:10.1080/17470919.2016.1178170. Full Text Open Access Copy

Ho, New Fei, et al. “Progressive Decline in Hippocampal CA1 Volume in Individuals at Ultra-High-Risk for Psychosis Who Do Not Remit: Findings from the Longitudinal Youth at Risk Study.Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 42, no. 6, May 2017, pp. 1361–70. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/npp.2017.5. Full Text

Murty, Vishnu P., et al. “Hippocampus and Prefrontal Cortex Predict Distinct Timescales of Activation in the Human Ventral Tegmental Area.Cereb Cortex, vol. 27, no. 2, Feb. 2017, pp. 1660–69. Pubmed, doi:10.1093/cercor/bhw005. Full Text

Murty, Vishnu P., et al. “Selectivity in Postencoding Connectivity with High-Level Visual Cortex Is Associated with Reward-Motivated Memory.J Neurosci, vol. 37, no. 3, Jan. 2017, pp. 537–45. Pubmed, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4032-15.2016. Full Text



Clement, Nathan, and R. Alison Adcock. “MOVE FASTER TO LEARN BETTER: EXPLORATION SPEED IMPACTS LEARNING ABOUT OBJECTS AND THEIR LOCATIONS.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, MIT PRESS, 2013, pp. 79–80.

Sumner, Elizabeth, et al. “DOPAMINERGIC MODULATION OF REWARD-MOTIVATED MEMORY.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, MIT PRESS, 2013, pp. 227–28.

Murty, Vishnu, et al. “THE ACTIVE AVOIDANCE OF THREAT ENHANCES NEURAL SENSITIVITY TO EXPECTANCY VIOLATION.Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, MIT PRESS, 2013, pp. 183–183.

Johnson, Elizabeth B., et al. “Midbrain Modulation of Hippocampus Dependent Learning in Singaporeans at Ultra High Risk for the Development of Schizophrenia.” Biological Psychiatry, vol. 71, no. 8, ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2012, pp. 254S-254S.

Murty, Vishnu P., et al. “Amygdala Reactivity in Singaporeans at Ultra High Risk for the Development of Schizophrenia.” Biological Psychiatry, vol. 69, no. 9, ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2011, pp. 235S-235S.

Johnson, Elizabeth B., and R. Alison Adcock. “Generalized Enhancement of Episodic Memory by Prior Reward Experience.” Biological Psychiatry, vol. 67, no. 9, ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2010, pp. 85S-85S.