Alain Dagher, MD
Professor of Neurology & Neurosurgery and Psychology
Alain Dagher received his B.Eng and M.Eng in Electrical Engineering from McGill University.
He then completed his MD at University of Toronto, followed by a residency in neurology at Cornell University
Medical Center in New York, and at McGill University. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Hammersmith
Hospital and National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, where he trained in
movement disorders and functional brain imaging. There he developed a novel method for measuring in vivo
dopamine release in the human brain using positron emission tomography. He returned to the Montreal Neurological
Institute in 1997 where his lab works on various aspects of functional brain imaging with a particular interest
in Parkinson's disease, addiction and appetite control. He is Professor in the departments of Neurology and
Neurosurgery and Psychology at McGill.
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Broadly speaking my research aims to understand the function of brain regions innervated by
dopamine. These interconnected brain areas play a key role in reward, learning, motivation, and decision-making.
This research has applications to Parkinson's Disease, schizophrenia, drug addiction and obesity, and to gaining
an understanding of normal brain function. Almost all of my work uses functional brain imaging methods in human
subjects. I have also made contributions to basic imaging methodology, most notably in developing a PET technique
that allows the measurement of dopamine release in vivo in the human brain.
I use fMRI to model addiction as a disorder of choice. I have used neuroeconomics approaches
to the study of drug craving and hunger, based on the analogy between incentive salience and “economic
I have become interested in the role of the reward system in appetite and obesity. We were
the first group to show that the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin acts on brain reward systems. Our current
studies aim to understand the role of energy balance signals, stress, personality in the neural control of