Douglas Steele

+44 (0)1382 496233
Deputy Head of Division - Imaging Science and Technology & Professor of Neuroimaging & Consultant Psychiatrist



My main clinical and academic interests are psychiatry, neurology and its overlap neuropsychiatry, linked to neuroimaging and machine learning. Two main areas:

i) Machine learning for individual patient predictions – diagnostic and prognostic.  Initial work focused on proof of concept studies using research data, now focused on application to routinely acquired NHS data, with a particular emphasis on fully integrating the techniques into routine clinical practice.  Recent success in obtaining MRC Programme Grant funding.

ii) Mechanisms research, which include computational modelling of behaviour and brain function (model-based fMRI, forward translation), neurosurgical studies on therapeutic interventions for brain disorders and back translation from functional brain imaging studies on patients to animals for drug discovery.

Techniques: structured psychiatric clinical assessment, neuropsychological testing, reinforcement learning and neuroeconomics paradigms, Matlab programming, fMRI, GABA spectroscopy, computational modelling of brain and behaviour, diffusion tensor imaging, machine learning, PET and EEG source reconstruction.

Selected Publications:

Tolomeo, S., Christmas, D., Jentzsch, I., Johnston, B., Sprenglemeyer, R., Matthews, K., Steele, J.D. (2016) “A Causal Role for the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex in Negative Affect and Cognitive Control”  Brain (in press)

Johnston, B.A.., Tolomeo, S, Gradin, V., Christmas, D., Matthews, K., Steele J.D. (2015) “Failure of Hippocampal Deactivation during Loss Events in Treatment-Resistant Depression” Brain138(9) 2766-76

Gradin V., Baldacchino A., Balfour D., Matthews K, Steele J.D. (2014) “Abnormal Brain Activity during a Reward and Loss Task in Opiate Dependent Patients receiving Methadone Maintenance Therapy” Neuropsychopharmacology 39(4):885-94

Mwangi, B., Ebmeier K.P., Matthews, K.M., Steele, J.D. (2012) "Multicentre Diagnostic Classification of Individual Structural Neuroimaging Scans from Patients with Major Depressive Disorder", Brain 135(1) 1508-21

Perrin, J., Merz, S., Bennett, D.., Currie, J., Steele J.D., Reid I., Schwarzbauer C. (2012) "Electroconvulsive Therapy Reduces Frontal Connectivity in Severe Depression", Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(14) 5464-8

Gradin, V., Kumar, P., Waiter, G., Ahearn, T., Stickle, C., Milders, M., Reid, I., Hall, J., Steele, J.D. (2011) "Expected Value and Prediction Error Abnormalities in Depression and Schizophrenia", Brain 134(6) 1751-1764

Kumar P, Waiter G, Ahearn T, Milders M, Reid I, Steele J.D. (2008) “Abnormal temporal difference reward-learning signals in major depression” Brain, 131(8) 2084-2093

Rück C, Karlsson A, Steele J.D., Edman G, Meyerson B.A., Ericson K, Nyman H, Åsberg M, Svanborg P (2008) "Capsulotomy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – long-term follow-up of 25 patients" JAMA Psychiatry, 65(8), 914-921

Steele J.D., Christmas D., Eljamel M.S., Matthews K. (2008) “Anterior cingulotomy for major depression: Clinical outcome and relationship to lesion characteristics” Biological Psychiatry, 63(7), 670-677

Steele J.D., Kumar P., Ebmeier, K.P. (2007) “Blunted response to feedback information in depressive illness”, Brain, 130 (9), 2367-74

Ebmeier K., Donaghey C., Steele J.D. (2006) “Recent Developments and Current Controversies in Depression”, Lancet, 367, 153-167

Steele J.D., Meyer M., Ebmeier K.P. (2004) “Neural Predictive Error Signal Correlates with Depressive Illness Severity in a Game Paradigm” NeuroImage, 23, 269-280


Previously Module Manager for BSc/BMSc BS42017/BM40019, “Psychiatric Disorders”, involving course design, teaching and marking, teaching Psychiatric Neuroscience. This course has now been expanded to include both Psychiatric and Neurology clinical and translational neuroscience.  Also supervisor for BS40010 Honours Year Projects.  Previously External Examiner for Psychiatry at the Edinburgh University MB ChB course.    Regular external PhD examiner to several Universities including Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Kings College London.  Previously external examiner on Edinburgh University MSc Neuroimaging and external examiner for Edinburgh University, MSc Neuroimaging for Research.  Currently external examiner for St Andrews MSc in Digital Health.  Various clinical supervision and other clinical teaching responsibilities.  Previously a clinical supervisor for many NHS SpRs and SHOs in clinical training.


Before medicine: I began (’76) by studying for a BSc in Electrical & Electronic Engineering for 2 years at Paisley University doing various industrial placements, then switched to the last 3 years of honours Physics at Strathclyde University, graduating BSc (hons) Physics.  After this I did a PhD in Computational Physics at Glasgow University (Department of Physics & Institute of Physiology) using Electron Microscopy to target regions of animal & human pathology samples for spectroscopic chemical analyses.  The work was supported by a CASE studentship with sponsorship from Riker Laboratories Ltd, Loughborough, Leicestershire, a pharmaceutical company.  I spent a lot of time developing spectroscopy software which was later used by Glasgow University in part-payment for a new electron microscope.  After my PhD (’86) I worked for 3 years as an NHS Medical Physicist in Glasgow, then 1 year as a Software R&D Engineer at General Electric Ltd, Hertfordshire, programming a new Radiotherapy Treatment Planning system, an earlier version of which I had used as an NHS medical physicist in Belvidere Hospital, Glasgow.

Medicine: I was accepted to study Medicine at Edinburgh University in ’89 and became interested in Psychiatric Neuroimaging during an undergraduate medical student placement at the MRC Brain Metabolism Unit, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, getting the first version of SPM working in Edinburgh in collaboration with Karl Friston.  After graduating MB ChB (’95) I trained in psychiatry based at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, obtaining Royal College of Psychiatrists Membership (MRCPsych), an MD in Psychiatry & Neuroimaging (Edinburgh University), GMC registration as General Adult Psychiatrist, and have now worked clinically as an NHS Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist for ~15 years with a particular clinical interest in Neuropsychiatry.  My main research focus is quantitative clinical neuroimaging, particularly use of Machine Learning (also known as AI) for making novel clinically useful predictions, and computational modelling of behaviour & brain function to test hypotheses of abnormal pathophysiology.

Posts: NHS Medical Physicist, Glasgow (85-89); Software Engineer, IGE Medical Systems Ltd, Radlett Hertfordshire (89-90); House Officer, St John's and Kirkcaldy Hospitals (95-96); SHO Edinburgh Psychiatric Training Rotation (96-01); Wellcome Research Registrar, Edinburgh University and Royal Edinburgh Hospital (6 months 99); Lecturer and SpR in Psychiatry, Edinburgh University and Royal Edinburgh Hospital (01-04); Senior Lecturer and Consultant Psychiatrist, Aberdeen University and Royal Cornhill Hospital (04-08); Professor of Neuroimaging and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, Dundee University and NHS Tayside/Fife (09-date), Honorary Professor, University of St Andrews (16-date)



Chronic tobacco smoking and neuropsychological impairments
11/2018, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Review article

The neurobiology of personal control during reward learning and its relation to mood
9/2018, Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Major Depression Impairs the Use of Reward Values for Decision-Making
8/2018, Scientific Reports
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Assessing ADHD symptoms in children and adults
5/2018, Behavioral and Brain Functions
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Compulsivity in opioid dependence
5/2017, Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Comprehensive review
8/2017, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Review article

Increased neural response to social rejection in major depression
2/2017, Depression and Anxiety
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Schizophrenia illness severity is associated with reduced loss aversion
7/2016, Brain Research
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Conditioned task-set competition
10/2016, Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Article

Modeling trait anxiety
1/2017, Frontiers in Psychiatry
Research Output: Contribution To Journal > Review article

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