Seminar Series

Reward-based decision making and the brain

Reward is a key motivator. To determine what is rewarding, we need to look at behavior, e.g. instrumental responding and choice. Choice options can be described by a variety of reward parameters, such as reward magnitude, probability, delay, risk, and their combinations. Behavior usually suggests that the value of an option increases with magnitude and probability and decreases with delay and risk. However, there are substantial individual differences in processing of these parameters. In the present talk I review single-cell responses from dopamine neurons and BOLD responses from their target structures, striatum and prefrontal cortex. The data suggest that the brain codes all of the mentioned parameters, some in a linear fashion and similarly across individuals, others in a non-linear fashion and differently across individuals. Such signals may form the neuronal basis of economic decisions.