Department of Psychology
Arizona State University
950 S. McAllister Ave.
Tempe, AZ 85287
I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology where I direct the Decision Neuroscience Lab. My research is in the area of Cognitive Neuroscience. Specifically, I am interested in brain systems important for learning the value of items in the world and/or actions required to obtain these items. This interest has led me to a broader interest in decision-making. One line of work in my lab investigates how we value rewards that can only be obtained in the future. This valuation process is fundamental for our ability to delay gratification, and addresses classic intertemporal choice problems from behavioral economics. Additionally, we have become interested in behaviors related to competitive drive and study brain activity that predicts the degree to which people will pay too much in a competitive auction task to beat their competitors.
From a neuroscience perspective, my research interests begin with the midbrain dopamine system. I use fMRI to investigate dopaminergic function pertaining to valuation, decision-making, and cognitive control processes. We have made methodological contributions that permit studying the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra directly, and are interested in parsing computational processes subserved by these nuclei above and beyond reporting reward prediction errors. This interest extends to striatal function: recent work from our lab has used fMRI in conjunction with DTI and functional connectivity measures to parcellate distinct cognitive processes subserved by separate striatal regions. Our aim is to link distinct mesostriatal and corticostriatal pathways to computational models of cogntion in order to elucidate the nature of mental processes involved in learning and decision-making. These neural and cognitive processes have direct relevance to addiction, ADHD, and Parkinson's Disease, and we are deeply involved in projects applying our findings to these areas.My research is generously funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.