Neural circuits for adaptive decisions and their dysfunction in alcohol use disorders
We make hundreds of decisions every day, from small ones like which dish to select from a restaurant menu to complex ones that fundamentally change our lives. A common feature of many decisions is our ability to integrate and weigh the positive and negative outcomes of our choices to guide future behavior. Over human history, this question has been approached from multiple perspectives, including philosophy and economics. Our laboratory takes a systems neuroscience approach to ask:
1) How does the brain learn about outcomes to adaptively guide decision making behavior? 2) Are distinct brain regions and neuron types specialized for specific decision making functions? 3) How does dysfunction of neural circuits underlying adaptive decision making gives rise to substance use disorders?
We use a portfolio of world-class optical techniques, combined with computational methods, quantitative mouse behavior, and anatomy, to study molecularly- and anatomically-defined cortical, striatal, and midbrain circuits. In addition to determining the function of these circuits in adaptive decision making, we aim to identify general principles for information flow and computation in long-range brain circuits.