Professor Paul Overton - "Sex, Drugs and Motor Control: Reflections on a life in Neuroscience"

Thursday 27th November, 5.30pm


The basal ganglia, part of the ‘extrapyramidal motor system’, are classically considered to be involved in motor control. Over the years, my research has focused on a couple of specific aspects of basal ganglia organisation – namely the dopamine systems, one of the areas of the basal ganglia which receives inputs from other areas of the brain, and the superior colliculus, a structure on the output (and input) side of the system. I’ll be presenting some of the major findings about these input and output systems and how those findings can help us to understand some of the myriad disorders that are linked to basal ganglia dysfunction, like Parkinson’s disease, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and drug addiction. Although classically considered part of the motor system, more modern approaches recognise that the basal ganglia also perform functions concerned with cognition and emotion, and I will also be presenting some work on emotion, particularly in the context of Parkinson’s disease, where current theorising suggests that changes in emotionality may underlie the Impulse Control Disorders (such as hypersexuality) which have been reported in these patients.

Paul Overton was originally an undergraduate and then postgraduate student in the Department of Psychology, returning as a member of academic staff in 2001.