How does the brain represent value and reward?
How are these representations used to act and decide?
One of the brain's most important functions is assigning value to sensory stimuli, and organizing the appropriate response. Our lab studies the neural circuits that make this possible.
How does the brain construct neural representations of value?
Within the span of a few synapses, information encoded in cortical sensory areas is transformed into a robust value code in the frontal lobe, limbic system, and basal ganglia. Our lab studies the activity of single neurons in the primate brain to understand the fundamental nature of value representation.
How does attention influence valuation and choice?
In our everyday decision-making, we often shift our attention from one option to another as we deliberate. Our lab studies how these shifts of attention impact neural value representations, and, ultimately, the decisions and other actions that rely on these representations.
How does information about value flow through the brain?
The orbital and medial prefrontal cortex, basolateral amygdala, and ventral striatum are massively interconnected, but the functional significance of these connections is unknown. A major interest in our lab is how value signals in one region influence the others, and how this information flow impacts decision-making and other motivated behaviors.