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Dr Stephen McHugh

MA Edin, MSc DPhil Oxf


Dr Stephen McHugh teaches 2nd year psychology modules on the Biomedical Sciences course and also tutors psychology students at St Hilda’s.

Dr McHugh is a neuroscientist interested in the cellular and molecular basis of learning and memory, and especially how the brain forms and retrieves unpleasant memories – experiences that might produce emotional states such as fear or anxiety. His research seeks to understand how activity in specific brain regions contributes to these memories and emotional states, and how this brain activity might be influenced by chemicals such as neurotransmitters or drugs.

McHugh, S.B., Barkus, C., Huber, A., Capitao, L., Lima, J., Lowry, J. & Bannerman, D. (2014) Aversive prediction error signals in the amygdala. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 9024-9033.

Barkus, C., Line, S.J., Huber, A., Capitao, L., Lima, J., Jennings, K., Lowry, J., Sharp, T., Bannerman, D.M. & McHugh, S.B. (2014) Variation in serotonin transporter expression modulates fear-evoked hemodynamic responses and theta-frequency neuronal oscillations in the amygdala. Biological Psychiatry, 75, 901-908.

Bannerman, D.M., Sprengel, R., Sanderson, D.J., McHugh, S.B., Rawlins, J.N., Monyer, H. & Seeburg, P.H. (2014) Hippocampal synaptic plasticity, spatial memory and anxiety. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15, 181-192.

Groves, J.O., Leslie, I., Huang, G.J., McHugh, S.B., Taylor, A., Mott, R., Munafo, M., Bannerman, D.M. & Flint, J. (2013) Ablating adult neurogenesis in the rat has no effect on spatial processing: evidence from a novel pharmacogenetic model. PLoS Genetics, 9, e1003718.

McHugh, S.B., Marques-Smith, A., Li, J., Rawlins, J.N.P., Lowry, J., Conway, M., Gilmour, G., Tricklebank, M. & Bannerman, D.M. (2013) Hemodynamic responses in amygdala and hippocampus distinguish between aversive and neutral cues during Pavlovian fear conditioning in behaving rats. European Journal of Neuroscience, 37, 498-507.

Li, J., Bravo, D.S., Upton, A.L., Gilmour, G., Tricklebank, M.D., Fillenz, M., Martin, C., Lowry, J.P., Bannerman, D.M. & McHugh, S.B. (2011) Close temporal coupling of neuronal activity and tissue oxygen responses in rodent whisker barrel cortex. European Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 1983-1996.

McHugh, S.B., Fillenz, M., Lowry, J.P., Rawlins, J.N.P. & Bannerman, D.M. (2011) Brain tissue oxygen amperometry in behaving rats demonstrates functional dissociation of dorsal and ventral hippocampus during spatial processing and anxiety. European Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 322-337.

Barkus, C., McHugh, S.B., Sprengel, R., Seeburg, P.H., Rawlins, J.N.P. & Bannerman, D.M. (2010) Hippocampal NMDA receptors and anxiety: At the interface between cognition and emotion. European Journal of Pharmacology, 626, 49-56.

Lowry, J.P., Griffin, K., McHugh, S.B., Lowe, A.S., Tricklebank, M. & Sibson, N.R. (2010) Real-time electrochemical monitoring of brain tissue oxygen: a surrogate for functional magnetic resonance imaging in rodents. Neuroimage, 52, 549-555.

Bannerman, D.M., Rawlins, J.N.P., McHugh, S.B., Deacon, R.M.J., Yee, B.K., Bast, T., Zhang, W.N., Pothuizen, H.H.J. & Feldon, J. (2004) Regional dissociations within the hippocampus - memory and anxiety. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 28, 273-283.

McHugh, S.B., Deacon, R.M.J., Rawlins, J.N.P. & Bannerman, D.M. (2004) Amygdala and ventral hippocampus contribute differentially to mechanisms of fear and anxiety. Behavioral Neuroscience, 118, 63-78.


  • Tutorial Fellow in Psychology


  • Psychology