The lab's research is focused on discovering basic neurobiological mechanisms that support human cognition and human decision-making.
These basic questions guide the work in our laboratory:
(1) How does activity in the human brain give rise to human experience, human beliefs, and human choice behavior?
(2) How does the environment and social interaction modulate these processes?
(3) How can we use answers to these questions to improve the quality of life of all humans, but especially those that suffer from neurological and psychiatric conditions?
In human decision-making, conscious and subconscious processes are clearly at play. However, how these dichotomous depictions of human cognition interact and guide human decision-making via concrete neurobiological mechanisms remains poorly understood.
The laboratory uses intracranial measures (e.g., human voltammetry, stereo-EEG, and micro-electrode recordings) as well as noninvasive neuroimaging tools (e.g., fMRI and MEG) to measure brain activity during conscious decision-making in humans. We use behavioral tasks that are constrained by computational considerations borrowing ideas from game theory and machine learning. In combining these disciplines, we investigate how the human brain navigates constrained decision-spaces to discover neural process that are involved in real-time human decision-making.
We further extend our work in the human brain with the use of model organisms and in vitro experimentation to develop new tools for use in human neuroscience and to investigate basic neurobiological processes that are motivated by our discoveries in the human brain.
Our lab is on the advent of technological advancement. We are able to do fast scan cyclic voltammetry in patients undergoing deep brain stimulation (DBS) for treatment of different neurological conditions. This technique allows us to record live fluctuations of dopamine and serotonin levels while subjects engage in decision-making tasks.