Neural Basis of Decision Making

At a neural level we are particularly interested in exploring the role of the basal ganglia in both goal-directed and habitual actions investigating the role of specific cortico-striatal circuits using tract tracing, electrophysiological and standard pharmacological and lesion techniques

Slide 1
From a folk psychological perspective, the three fundamental divisions of behavior are reflexes, volitional actions and habits.The research in my laboratory focuses on the neurobiology of learning and memory in an attempt to establish whether and on what basis the psychological and neural processes that support these different behavioral classes in fact differ. We are addressing this issue in rats and mice using both Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning preparations, motivational manipulations, and tests of stimulus-outcome and action-outcome encoding - the basic associative processes underlying Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning. At a neural level we are particularly interested in exploring the role of the basal ganglia in both goal-directed and habitual actions investigating the role of specific cortico-striatal circuits using tract tracing, electrophysiological and standard pharmacological and lesion techniques. In addition to cortical afferents we have also been interested in the role of entorhinal, hippocampal and amygdala afferents on the striatum as well as feedback to the cortex and the striatum from the nigra, pallidum and midline thalamic nuclei in the encoding of action-goal relations.