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Neural circuits for reward learning and decision making

If a stimulus has been associated with a rewarding event, it draws our attention, accesses our memory systems, and motivates our behavior. But how exactly do rewards alter neural circuits to shape behavior? Although neural correlates of reward learning and decision-making have been identified in many brain regions, we only now have the tools to begin to understand how neural circuits perform the underlying computations. By integrating a wide range of technical approaches—optogenetics, rodent behavior, electrophysiology, imaging, and computational modeling—our lab is providing new insights into the circuit level mechanisms underlying these fundamental processes.