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May272:00pm - 3:30pmMetcalf Research Building
Michael S. Goodman ’74 Memorial Seminar Series.
Speaker: James Howard- Assistant Professor - Brandeis
Title: To be specific: neural mechanisms of reward identity learning inthe human brain
Abstract:Research on the neuroscience of reward learning and decision making hastraditionally focused on characterizing representations of abstract value inthe brain. However, there is increasing appreciation of the broad range of task-relevantinformation contained in putative “value” regions, and how this information criticallyunderpins complex decision processes. In this talk I will present recentfindings suggesting that one such piece of information, the sensory identity ofexpected rewards, is represented at multiple stages in the mesocortical pathway.I will demonstrate how identity information carried in midbrain predictionerror signals directly relates to updating of identity information indownstream regions for later predictions. I will further present behavioralevidence that specific outcome expectations themselves may mediate experientiallearning in the absence of rewards, and speculate on the relevance of suchlearning for our understanding of certain aspects of psychosis. Together thesefindings motivate future studies aimed at more fully characterizing thedistributed networks that link sensation to prediction, and back again, in thehuman brain.