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The past, present and future of 

Neuroscience in southern Africa

Brooks is a Chartered member of the British Psychological Society, and is currently a Senior Lecturer at The Department of Psychiatry, University of Cape Town.  Brooks' research specialises in the neural mechanisms of impulse control in various psychiatric conditions. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Uppsala University, Sweden, where she continues to collaborate on projects examining the brain processes underlying eating disorders. She gained her Ph.D. at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, where she learned clinical neuroimaging techniques.  She hopes to improve our understanding of the brain processes involved in cognitive control so that people with impulse control problems can be trained to improve their self-control, and ultimately lead more fulfilling lives.

Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Dr Samantha Brooks 



Working Memory for Cognitive Control in Anorexia versus Addiction: A Bayesian Brain Perspective

Kate Cockcroft



Kate Cockcroft is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand. Kate's scholarly work focuses on the role of working memory in learning, development, language and creativity.

The fourth seminar in the series was held on Thursday 26th October 2017 in the cartoon room at JIAS. The presenter, Dr Samantha Brooks, then based at the University of Cape Town presented on 'Working Memory for Cognitive Control in Anorexia versus Addiction: A Bayesian Brain Perspective'.

We are living in a world that is extremely stimulating and impulse-driven. It is perhaps no coincidence that we are experiencing huge crises in terms of social unrest in South Africa and across the globe, fueled by an abundance and instant availability of food, drugs, consumer goods, sex – all appetitive processes.

This talk highlighted some of the neurobiological theory and evidence that explains how working memory enables cognitive control over appetitive processes such as eating and drug-taking. From the basis of the extremes of an impulse control spectrum model, Dr Brooks described brain imaging data from studies in anorexia nervosa versus substance use disorder to understand the neurocognitive basis of cognitive control.


Dr Brooks touched on Bayesian Brain theory, particularly related to epistemic foraging versus jumping to conclusions, to help to explain a novel training adjunct to treatment for impulse control that Dr Brooks’s team has been developing. Working memory training may harness inherent neural plasticity in brain circuits underlying impulse control.

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