James Blair, Ph.D.

James Blair , Ph.D.



James Blair, PhD is the Director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Research. He is an expert in the neurobiology of emotion, aggression and antisocial behavior and has published more than 200 scientific manuscripts on this and related topics. Dr. Blair received a doctoral degree in Psychology from University College London in 1993 under the supervision of Professor John Morton.  Following graduation he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Mental Health Research Fellowship that he held at the Medical Research Council Cognitive Development Unit for three years.  Subsequently, Dr. Blair moved to the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London.  There, with Uta Frith, he helped form and co-lead the Developmental Disorders group, and was ultimately appointed Senior Lecturer. Dr. Blair Joined the NIMH Intramural Research Program in 2002.He joined Boys Town as Center Director in August 2016.  He is currently President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy as well as the acting vice-chair of the Board of Scientific Advisors for the National Courts and Sciences Institute (the Institute educates judges on scientific topics relevant to the courtroom).  He is also on the scientific advisory board of the Avielle Foundation.  He is currently on the editorial boards of Biological Psychiatry, and Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

Research Interests

Dr. Blair's primary research focus is on the development of neuro-cognitive systems that, when dysfunctional, give rise to the emergence of mood, anxiety and externalizing symptoms. His primary clinical focus is in understanding the dysfunction of affect-related systems in youth with specific forms of conduct disorder. His research approach includes techniques employed in cognitive neuroscience (both neuropsychology and functional imaging), psychopharmacology and, more recently, molecular genetics.

​​​Selected Recent Publications: 

Blair, R. J. (2013). The neurobiology of psychopathic traits in youths. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14(11), 786-799. doi:10.1038/nrn3577

Blair, R. J., Leibenluft, E., & Pine, D. S. (2014). Conduct disorder and callous-unemotional traits in youth. The New England Journal of Medicine, 371(23), 2207-2216. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1315612

Blair, R. J., Veroude, K., & Buitelaar, J. K. (2016). Neuro-cognitive system dysfunction and symptom sets: A review of fMRI studies in youth with conduct problems. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.10.022

Hwang, S., Nolan, Z. T., White, S. F., Williams, W. C., Sinclair, S., & Blair, R. J. (2016). Dual neurocircuitry dysfunctions in disruptive behavior disorders: emotional responding and response inhibition. Psychological Medicine, 46(7), 1485-1496. 

White, S. F., VanTieghem, M., Brislin, S. J., Sypher, I., Sinclair, S., Pine, D. S., Blair, R. J. (2016). Neural Correlates of the Propensity for Retaliatory Behavior in Youths With Disruptive Behavior Disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 173(3), 282-290. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.1502025