Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience 2018
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Invited Presenters

Kent Berridge, UM

Research in my lab seeks answers to fundamental questions, such as:

  • How is pleasure generated in the brain?
  • What are the neural bases of reward wanting and liking?
  • How are rewards learned?
  • How do brain motivation systems work?
  • How is appetite controlled?
  • What causes addiction?
  • How does the brain distinguish pleasant from unpleasant?
  • How does fear relate to desire?

We use optogenetic, drug microinjection, and other painless techniques to manipulate neural components of mesocorticolimbic systems in rodents, combined with sophisticated behavioral analysis techniques to assess changes in reward learning, ‘liking’, and ‘wanting’ or other motivation processes.  Each graduate student in our lab has an individualized research program focused on a selection from these topics guided by their own interests.

Laurette Dubé, McGill

Originally trained as a nutritionist, with graduate degrees in finances (MBA), marketing (MPS), and behavioral decision making/consumer psychology (PhD), Laurette Dubé is Full Professor and holds the James McGill Chair of consumer and lifestyle psychology and marketing at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University. Dr. Dubé’s lifetime research interest bears on the study of affects, behavioral economics, and neurobehavioral  processes underlying consumption, lifestyle, and health behavior. Her translational research examines how such knowledge can inspire more effective behavioral change and ecosystem transformation.

Todd Hare, University of Zurich

Decision making is a core aspect of human behaviors and the ability to make good choices is necessary for personal health and happiness as well as the efficient functioning of society as a whole. Our goal is to understand the neural mechanisms of decision making in healthy, typical populations as well as how these processes become dysfunctional in specific behavioral disorders and pathophysiologies.

My previous research has examined the neural networks that mediate decision making for various reward types (primary, monetary, social). We have shown that while key areas of the decision network are recruited across choice domains, the regions with which they interact differ between decision contexts. Furthermore, we have demonstrated differences in the neural networks that mediate choice in individuals who successfully employ self-control compared to those with self-control failures.

Using a combination of behavioral, neuroimaging, brain stimulation, and computational modeling techniques, I am presently studying the impact of factors such as stress, social feedback, and attention on both self-control and normative decision making.


Catherine Hartley, NYU

Learning lays the foundation for motivated behavior, enabling us to anticipate and respond adaptively to salient events. Research in my lab focuses on characterizing the diverse learning and decision-making processes that support adaptive motivated behavior. Specifically, I focus on understanding: 1) what cognitive, computational, and neural processes are engaged to predict positive and negative environmental events and evaluate potential behavioral responses, 2) how these learning and decision-making processes change over development as our environments and our capabilities also change, and 3) what factors facilitate or constrain these processes for a given individual. I use an array of methodological techniques to pursue these questions including neuroimaging, psychophysiology, computational modeling, and genetics, in conjunction with experimental paradigms that draw upon both animal learning and economic decision theories.

Scott Huettel, Duke

Research in my laboratory investigates the brain mechanisms underlying economic and social decision making; collectively, this research falls into the field of “decision neuroscience” or "neuroeconomics". My laboratory uses fMRI to probe brain function, behavioral assays to characterize individual differences, and other physiological methods (e.g., eye tracking, pharmacological manipulation, genetics) to link brain and behavior. Concurrent with research on basic processes, my laboratory has also investigated the application of new analysis methods for fMRI data, including functional connectivity analyses, pattern classification analyses, and combinatoric multivariate approaches. We have also been applying computational methods to problems in behavioral economics and consumer decision making.


Wendy Ju, Cornell Tech

Dr. Wendy Ju is an Assistant Professor at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech in the Information Science program. Dr. Ju comes to Cornell Tech from the Center for Design Research at Stanford University, where she was Executive Director of Interaction Design Research, and from the California College of the Arts, where she was an Associate Professor of Interaction Design in the Design MFA program. Her work in the areas of human-robot interaction and automated vehicle interfaces highlights the ways that interactive devices can communicate and engage people without interrupting or intruding. Dr. Ju has innovated numerous methods for early-stage prototyping of automated systems to understand how people will respond to systems before the systems are built. She has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford, and a Master’s in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT. Her monograph on The Design of Implicit Interactions was published in 2015.


Stephanie D. Preston, UM

We use an interdisciplinary approach to study the interface between emotion and decision making, focusing on two main lines of research:

  • How do people process others' emotions and how does this affect the help they offer?
  • How do people allocate resources like food, money, and material goods?

Both lines integrate proximate (what the brain and body are doing) and ultimate (why they exist, how they evolved) levels of analysis with a variety of measurement techniques including overt behavior (via computer responses or video coding), personality (via scales or questionnaires), emotion (via self-report and psychophysiology) and brain activity (via PET and fMRI).

Alan Sanfey, Radboud University (Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

Decision Neuroscience offers a novel approach to the study of both individual and interactive decision-making by combining the methods of behavioral experiments, functional neuroimaging, and formal economic models. Use of this methodology has the potential to advance our knowledge of existing theoretical accounts of how people make decisions and judgments by informing and constraining these models based on the underlying neurobiology. Examining sophisticated high-level behavior at a neural level, such as deciding on how much risk to take with an investment or deciding on a strategy when playing a competitive game with an opponent, can provide important clues as to the fundamental mechanisms by which decision-making operates. A further goal of our group is to use the knowledge gleaned from these studies to inform public policy debates, for example in understanding how expectations play a role in financial and health-care decisions.

Baldwin M. Way, OSU

Research in our laboratory integrates social psychological theory and methods with pharmacological, genetic, and neuroimaging methodologies. We call this the social neurochemistry approach and are currently pursuing it in the following basic research and translational tracks:

1). Social influences on health.

2). The Neurochemistry of Stress Reactivity and Resilience.

3). Psychological Effects on Drug Action.

4). Translational Research.

Piotr Winkielman, UC San Diego

I study the interplay between emotion, cognition, embodiment and consciousness, particularly in the domain of social cognition.  Specifically, I am exploring unconscious affect, affective influences on decisions, and embodiment of affective processing.  I am also investigating the role of cognitive feelings, such as processing fluency or recall difficulty in a variety of judgments, ranging from attractiveness to memory. My work draws on a variety of psychological methods, including those of social neuroscience.


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