Neurophysiology of reward and economic decision-making

My research focuses on how the brain performs decision-making and pursues rewards based on individual preferences (economic decision-making, vauie-based decision-making). We study this by training monkeys, who have similar brain anatomy and sophisticated cognitive functions as humans, to perform controlled choice tasks in the laboratory. Meanwhile, we record electrical activities across brain structures and associate these neuronal signals with decision behaviour to elucidate how decisions are made during this neural information processing. To formally characterise decision behaviour, we design behavioural tasks based on microeconomic theories, behavioural economics and game theory, etc. We quantify and link decision behaviour with brain circuits using computational modelling and identify neural substrates involved in different stages of decision-making. Computational simulations and machine learning classifiers that reconstruct biological neural network in the computer also help examine the population network dynamics in the decision neural circuits. Finally, with latest brain stimulation technology, we can establish causal links of specific brain circuits with decision-making and pinpoint potential therapeutic targets for human brain stimulation therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders that impair decision-making.

Keywords:  neuroeconomics, reward, decision-making,, macaques, neurophysiology