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Principal Investigator: James Blair

James Blair

Unit on Affective Cognitive Neuroscience

Photo of James Blair


James Blair is Chief of the Unit on Affective Cognitive Neuroscience at NIMH. Dr. Blair received a doctoral degree in Psychology from University College London in 1993 under the supervision of Professor John Morton. Following graduation he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Mental Health Research Fellowship that he held at the Medical Research Council Cognitive Development Unit for three years. Subsequently, he moved to the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London. There, with Uta Frith, he helped form and co-lead the Developmental Disorders group, and was ultimately appointed Senior Lecturer. He Joined the NIMH Intramural Research Program in 2002.

Research Interests

Dr. Blair's primary research interest involves understanding the neuro-cognitive systems mediating affect in humans and how these become dysfunctional in mood and anxiety disorders. His primary clinical focus is in understanding the dysfunction of affect-related systems in youth with specific forms of conduct disorder. His research approach includes techniques employed in cognitive neuroscience (both neuropsychology and functional imaging), psychopharmacology and, more recently, molecular genetics.

Selected Publications

Reduced activity within the dorsal endogenous orienting of attention network to fearful expressions in youth with disruptive behavior disorders and psychopathic traits . White SF, Williams WC, Brislin SJ, Sinclair S, Blair KS, Fowler KA, Pine DS, Pope K, Blair RJ. Dev Psychopathol. 2012 Aug;24(3):1105-16. doi: 10.1017/S0954579412000569. PMID: 22781874.

Disrupted reinforcement signaling in the orbitofrontal cortex and caudate in youths with conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder and a high level of psychopathic traits . Finger EC, Marsh AA, Blair KS, Reid ME, Sims C, Ng P, Pine DS, Blair RJ. Am J Psychiatry. 2011 Feb;168(2):152-62. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.10010129. Epub 2010 Nov 15. PMID: 21078707.

Emotional automaticity is a matter of timing . Luo Q, Holroyd T, Majestic C, Cheng X, Schechter J, Blair RJ. J Neurosci. 2010 Apr 28;30(17):5825-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.BC-5668-09.2010. PMID: 20427643.

Adapting to dynamic stimulus-response values: differential contributions of inferior frontal, dorsomedial, and dorsolateral regions of prefrontal cortex to decision making . Mitchell DG, Luo Q, Avny SB, Kasprzycki T, Gupta K, Chen G, Finger EC, Blair RJ. J Neurosci. 2009 Sep 2;29(35):10827-34. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0963-09.2009. PMID: 19726640.

The amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex: functional contributions and dysfunction in psychopathy . Blair RJ. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Aug 12;363(1503):2557-65. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0027. PMID: 18434283.

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