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Claire Gillan
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Assistant Professor, Trinity Inst. of Neurosciences (TCIN)


Claire gained her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2013 under the supervision of Trevor Robbins. She stayed in Cambridge to complete a short postdoc funded by the Medical Research Council, before being awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at New York University. At NYU, Claire worked on computational approaches to understanding psychiatry with Nathaniel Daw and Liz Phelps. In 2015, Claire received the Junior Investigator Award from British Association for Psychophamacology for her work on goal-directed learning in obsessive-compulsive disorder. She serves on the editorial board for Brain and Neurosciences Advances, the new flagship journal of the British Neuroscience Association.

Claire's lab at Trinity College Dublin is interested in developing novel approaches to studying brain health in psychiatric and ageing populations - a key goal is to develop objective tests that can be used to predict who will respond to which treatment. Claire was recently awarded a fellowship from MQ to do just that.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Luijten, M, Gillan CM, de Wit S, Franken I, Robbins TW, Ersche, K, Goal-directed and habitual control in smokers, Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 2019 Journal Article, 2019 URL DOI

Wu Y, Clark L, Ziliolid S, Eisenegger C, Gillan CM, Dengh H, Lia H, Single dose testosterone administration modulates emotional reactivity and counterfactual choice in healthy males, Psychoneuroendochronology, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Fineberg NA, Apergis-Schoute AM, Vaghi MM, Banca P, Gillan CM, Voon V, Chamberlain SR, Cinosi E, Reid J, Shahper S, Bullmore ET, Sahakian BJ, Robbins T, Mapping Compulsivity in the DSM - 5 Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders: Cognitive Domains, Neural Circuitry And Treatment. , International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 21, (1), 2018, p42 - 58 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

Apergis-Schoute AM, Bijleveld B, Gillan CM, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ and Robbins TW, Hyperconnectivity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in obsessive-compulsive disorder., Brain and Neuroscience Advances, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

de Wit S, Kindt M, Knot SL, Verhoeven AAC, Robbins TW, Gasull-Camos J, Evans M, & Mirza H, Gillan CM, Shifting the balance between goals and habits: five failures in experimental habit induction, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Wheaton MG*, Gillan CM*, Simpson HB, Does cognitive-behavioral therapy affect goal-directed planning in obsessive-compulsive disorder?, Psychiatry Research , 2018 Journal Article, 2018 URL DOI

Rouault M, Seow T, Gillan CM, Fleming SM, Psychiatric symptom dimensions are associated with dissociable shifts in metacognition but not task performance., Biological Psychiatry, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Annemieke M. Apergis-Schoutea, Claire M. Gillan, Naomi A. Fineberg, Emilio Fernandez-Egea, Barbara J. Sahakian, Trevor W. Robbins, Neural basis of impaired safety signaling in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, PNAS, 114, (12), 2017, p3216 - 3221 Journal Article, 2017 DOI URL

Habits and Goals in OCD in, editor(s)C. Pittenger , Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Phenomenology, Pathophysiology and Treatment, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017, [Gillan CM] Book Chapter, 2017

Gillan CM, Fineberg NA, Robbins TW, A Trans-Diagnostic Perspective on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Psychological Medicine, 47, (9), 2017 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Gillan CM, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ, van den Heuvel O & van Wingen G, The role of habit in compulsivity, European Neuropsychopharmacology, 26, (5), 2016, p828 - 840 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

An associative account of avoidance. In Handbook of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning in, editor(s)Robin Murphy & Rob Honey , The Wiley Handbook on the Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning, Wiley & Sons, 2016, pp442 - 468, [Gillan, CM, Urcelay, GU & Robbins, TW] Book Chapter, 2016

Ersche KD, Gillan CM, Jones PS, Williams GB, Luitjen M, de Wit S, Ward LHE, Sahakian BJ, Bullmore ET, and Robbins TW, Carrots and sticks fail to change behavior in cocaine addiction, Science, 352, (6292), 2016, p1468 - 1471 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Gillan CM, Kosinski M, Whelan R, Phelps EA & Daw ND, Characterizing a psychiatric symptom dimension related to deficits in goal-directed control, eLife, 5, (e11305), 2016 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Godier LR, de Wit S, Pinto A, Steinglass JE, Greene AL, Scaife J, Gillan CM, Walsh BT, Simpson HB, Park, RJ, An investigation of habit learning in Anorexia Nervosa, Psychiatry Research, 2016 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Gillan CM & Daw ND, Taking psychiatry research online, Neuron, 91, (1), 2016, p19 - 23 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Tobias-Webb J, Limbrick-Oldfield EH, Gillan CM, Moore JW, Aitken MRF, and Clark, Let me take the wheel: illusory control and sense of agency, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2016 Journal Article, 2016 DOI URL

Gillan CM, Apergis-Schoute A, Morein-Zamir S, Urcelay GP, Sule A, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW, Functional neuroimaging of avoidance habits in OCD, American Journal of Psychiatry, 2015, p1 - 10 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Gillan CM, Otto AR, Phelps EA, Daw ND, Model-based learning protects against forming habits, Cognitive Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 15, (3), 2015, p523 - 536 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Gillan CM & Sahakian BJ, What is the driver, obsessions or compulsions in OCD?, Neuropsychopharmacology, 40, (1), 2015, p247 - 248 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Voon V, Derbyshire K, Rück C, Irvine MA, Worbe Y, Enander J, Schreiber LRN, Gillan CM, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW, Harrison NA, Wood J, Daw ND, Dayan P Grant JE, Bullmore ET, Disorders of compulsivity: a common bias towards learning habits, Molecular Psychiatry, 20, 2014, p345 - 352 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Gillan CM & Robbins TW, Goal-directed learning and obsessive-compulsive disorder, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 5, (369), 2014, p1655- Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Gillan CM, Morein-Zamir S, Kaser M, Fineberg NA, Sule A, Sahakian BJ, Cardinal R, Robbins TW, Counterfactual decision-making in obsessive-compulsive disorder: further evidence for impaired goal-directed control, Biological Psychiatry, 75, (8), 2014, p639 - 646 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Gillan CM, Morein-Zamir S, Durieux, A, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW, Obsessive-compulsive disorder patients have a reduced sense of control on the illusion of control task, Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 2014, p204- Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Fineberg NA, Chamberlain SR, Goudriaan AE, Stein DJ, Vanderschuren LJMJ, Gillan CM, Shekar S, Gorwood PAPM, Voon V, Morein-Zamir S, Denys D, Sahakian BJ, Moeller GF, Robbins TW, Potenza MN, New Developments in Human Neurocognition: Clinical, Genetic and Brain Imaging Correlates of Impulsivity and Compulsivity, CNS Spectrums, 19, 2014, p69 - 89 Journal Article, 2014

Gillan CM, Morein-Zamir S, Urcelay GP, Sule A, Voon V, Apergis-Schoute A, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW, Enhanced avoidance habits in obsessive-compulsive disorder, Biological Psychiatry, 75, (8), 2014, p631 - 638 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Morein-Zamir S, Papmeyer M, Gillan CM, Fineberg NA, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ, Punishment induces an impulsive response style in OCD: Evidence from a motivational go/no go task, Psychological Medicine, 43, (2), 2013, p391 - 400 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Robbins TW, Gillan CM, Smith D, de Wit S, Ersche KD, Neurocognitive endophenotypes; a dimensional approach to psychiatry, Trends in Cognitive Neuroscience, 16, (1), 2012, p81 - 91 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Gillan CM, Papmeyer M, Morein-Zamir S, Sahakian BJ, Fineberg NA, Robbins TW, de Wit S, Disrupted balance between goal-directed behavior versus habit learning in obsessive-compulsive disorder, American Journal of Psychiatry, 168, (7), 2011, p718 - 726 Journal Article, 2011 DOI

Research Expertise


Computational Psychiatry, Machine-Learning, Goal-Directed Behaviour, Model-Based Learning, Reinforcement Learning, Habits.


  • Title
    • The DETECT project Developing a global infrastructure for digital brain health research at GBHI
  • Funding Agency
    • Global Brain Health Institute
  • Date From
    • 01/2018
  • Date To
    • 01/2020
  • Title
    • A computational approach to identifying trans-diagnostic predictors of antidepressant response
  • Summary
    • Many patients with depression do not respond to their first drug treatment; it often takes several attempts before something works. This lack of precision means that patients suffer through months of ineffective treatment before getting any relief. I aim to improve matters by developing a tool that can be used to estimate a person's likelihood of benefitting from a range of treatments, based on a set of clinical, demographic and cognitive data, which are designed to be feasible to collect in a clinical setting. In order to develop this algorithm, using a technique called machine learning, we need lots of data. Specifically, we need to collect data from hundreds of individuals who are starting out on a new antidepressant treatment and follow their progress over several weeks. To achieve this, I will take this study out of the laboratory and into people's homes via the Internet. Once the algorithm has been trained using data collected online, we will test how well it performs in three local clinics. If successful, this project might one day revolutionise how we assign personalised treatments to individuals suffering from mental health problems.
  • Funding Agency
    • MQ
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2020
  • Title
    • A neurocomputational investigation of Pavlovian-instrumental interactions in avoidance
  • Funding Agency
    • Wellcome Trust
  • Date From
    • 2013
  • Date To
    • 2017


Awards and Honours

Provost's Scholarship Project Award 2017

MQ Fellows Award 2017

Ziskind-Somerfeld Research Award for Outstanding Research Investigations in Biological Psychiatry, Honorable Mention 2015

Junior Investigator Award, British Association for Psychopharmacology 2015

Postdoc Travel Award, British Association for Psychopharmacology 2015

UK Science & Innovation Network Travel Grant 2014

InSRI Annual Meeting Poster Award 2014

Guarantors of Brain Travel Award 2013

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship 2013

Isaac Newton Trust Public Engagement Grant 2013

Medical Research Council Centenary Postdoctoral Fellowship 2012

Oon Khye Beng Chʹhia Tsio Studentship Award 2011

Downing College Academic Travel Award 2011

Oon Khye Beng Chʹhia Tsio Studentship Award 2010

Medical Research Council PhD Studentship 2009

Cambridge European Trust Studentship (declined) 2009

Hodson Endowment Award 2006

University College Dublin, Entrance Scholarship 2006


Society of Biological Psychiatry 2015

British Association for Psychopharmacology 2013