skip to content

Cambridge Biosciences DTP PhD Programme


Department of Psychology

Research theme: Bioscience for an integrated understanding of health


I completed a 4-year integrated MSci in Pharmacology at UCL where I decided I wanted to stay in neuroscience research. Within neuroscience, my interests were largely in neural mechanisms of disorders such as addiction. Hence I joined David Belin's research group to look at the role of the insular cortex and the process of interoception in heroin addiction. 


Project Title: Investigating the role of peripheral opioidergic mechanisms in the development of heroin addiction.

Supervisor: Dr David Belin

Project Summary:

Interoception is the ability to sense peripheral physiological singals to have a map of the internal state of the body which plays a part in control over emotional behaviour. In recent years, the insular cortex (key neural substrate of interoception) has become increasingly important in drug addiction. If the peripheral pharmacological actions of heroin are considered to be the interoceptive effects of the drug, peripheral mu-opioid receptors (the major target of heroin) should be the starting point in addressing the role of interoception and interoceptive effects of heroin in heroin addiction. My project aims to characterise the contribution of peripheral mu-opioid receptors in the behavioural effects of heroin such as its reinforcing properties and the propensity to lose control over heroin self-administration in preclinical animal models. Subsequently, I aim to investigate if the peripheral mu-opioid receptors drive the recruitment of the insular cortex by heroin.


Key publications: 

Joshi, DD, Puaud, M, Fouyssac, M, Belin-Rauscent, A, Everitt, B, Belin, D. The anterior insular cortex in the rat exerts an inhibitory influence over the loss of control of heroin intake and subsequent propensity to relapse. Eur J Neurosci. 2020; 52: 4115– 4126.

Staff Photo

Contact Details

Job Titles

PhD Student