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Jan Gläscher

Bernstein Award for Computational Neuroscience, 2009

"Modulation of value representations during human decision-making: a neurocomputational approach"

Our daily course of action is determined by many distinct decisions: when do we get up in the morning? What do we want to have for lunch? Shall we go to the movies in the evening or rather meet some friends? Common to all these decision is a basic valuation process, by which the brain assigns a predictive value to each of the decision options. These values are then compared with each other and the subsequent decision is usually in favor of the option with the highest expected value. Previous research has made significant contributions in identifying the relevant brain area and their computations carried out during this valuation process. But which internal and external factor influence the valuation process?

The answer to this question is the goal of this Bernstein Research Group. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in humans in combination with computational models of learning and decision-making we are aim to identify relevant brain areas that influence the valuation process and characterize how they modify the computations necessary for value-based decision making. We will investigate social (decision in group situations) as well as genetic and pharmacological influences that modulate the availability of certain neurotransmitters in the human brain. Our findings will not only lead to a better understanding of human decision-making, but they will also have some concrete implications for the treatment of certain psychiatric diseases (e.g. addiction).

Portrait of Jan Gläscher