Reward and Value in the Human Brain and the Danger in Informal Reverse Inference

Posted by Institutional Development Scheme for HKSYU

Event Type: Research Workshop

Event Theme: Decision Making

Speaker: Dr. Tom Schonberg (Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology and The Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Israel)

Date: 3 March 2016 (Thursday)

Time: 2:30pm - 4:30pm

Venue: Room 103, Library Complex, HKSYU

Language: English


1) Free Admission
2) We recommend registration in advance for seat-reservation and news update.


In our everyday life we constantly make decisions whereby we evaluate multiple options and choose the preferred course of action. These decisions range from choosing the best route to work through the type of savings plan one will use for their pension to the food consumed over lunch.  Studies of both humans and nonhuman animals have implicated a set of brain regions to be involved in learning and reward-based decision-making. I will provide a short primer on functional MRI. Then I will discuss the computational framework of reinforcement learning that has been used to describe the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a central role in these behaviors. I will show how fMRI with computational reinforcement learning models could explain individual differences in reward-based learning and evidence that these fMRI reinforcement-learning signals rely on dopamine based on findings in Parkinson's disease patients. Finally, I will discuss the danger in informal reverse inference in fMRI studies and how today using a new platform called Neurosynth we can improve the interpretation and discussion of fMRI findings.

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