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Paul Fletcher

Prof Paul Fletcher

Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience

Areas of research

psychosis, schizophrenia, learning


Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge


Paul Fletcher trained in medicine before taking a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. He is the Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and a Wellcome Trust Investigator. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, of Clare College Cambridge and of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

His clinical work is on Huntington’s Disease and psychosis. In his research, he uses combinations of pharmacological challenges, neuroimaging and larger scale behavioural studies in healthy and clinical populations, with the aim of understanding the basis of learning and decision-making in the human brain.

A central principle of his research is the idea that the brain is occupied in the process of forming predictions and associations to minimise error and uncertainty and to maximise reward. In many instances the cognitive and reflective processes engaged with this goal can conflict with underlying automatic and habitual processes. Though we feel in charge of how we think and act, we are prey to many subtle signals from our bodies and our environment and these can seize power and shape our decisions and behaviours. The end result may be that our behaviours that can seem irrational and in conflict with our longer term goals and plans. Furthermore, the mind constructs reality such that, even under normal circumstances, what we experience and believe has been profoundly shaped by our expectations

Selected publications:

  • Ziauddeen, H., & Fletcher, P. C. (2013). Is food addiction a valid and useful concept? Obesity reviews, 14(1), 19-28.
  • Marteau, T. M., Hollands, G. J., & Fletcher, P. C. (2012). Changing human behavior to prevent disease: the importance of targeting automatic processes. Science, 337(6101), 1492-1495.
  • Fletcher, P. C., McKenna, P. J., Frith, C. D., Grasby, P. M., Friston, K. J., & Dolan, R. J. (1998). Brain activations in schizophrenia during a graded memory task studied with functional neuroimaging. Archives of general psychiatry, 55(11), 1001-1008.

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