Ph.D., Brandeis University, 2002
Decision-making; neural circuits; behavioral electrophysiology; theoretical neuroscience; neuroeconomics
Our laboratory studies the neurobiological principles of how brains make decisions. We view decisions as the elementary units of behavior from which more complex behaviors are assembled. Yet even simple decisions involve the integration of sensory and memory information with emotional and motivational attributes, requiring the concerted action of millions of neurons across brain regions. Therefore we take an integrative approach, combining well-controlled rodent behavior with electrophysiology, molecular perturbations and quantitative analysis. At present we are pursuing two broad directions:
(1) Neurocomputational principles of decision-making: We seek to go beyond the sensory and motor processes to capture more elusive attributes such as emotion, motivation or confidence. Recently, we discovered neural correlates of confidence in the orbitofrontal cortex of rats and currently we are investigating both the neural mechanisms and algorithms by which this signal supports adaptive behavior.
(2) Neuronal network mechanisms underlying decisions: We want to understand how specific cell types participate in the neural circuit dynamics of local processing, and how different brain regions with specialized functions coordinate their activity.
To address these issues we use rodent behavioral tasks that allow us to systematically manipulate sensory stimuli, reward expectation and uncertainty. We conduct simultaneous recordings of large populations of neurons in behaving rats coupled with pharmacology and lesion studies. Given the complexity of animal behavior and the dynamics of the neural networks producing it, our studies require quantitative analysis. We also make regular use of theoretical models to guide and sharpen the neurobiological questions. Future plans include adapting molecular tools for use in behaving animals to monitor and manipulate genetically identified circuit elements.
Please visit Adam's Lab home page.
Kepecs, A., Uchida, N., Zariwala, H.A. and Mainen, Z.F. 2008. Neural correlates, computation and behavioural impact of decision confidence. Nature. 455:227-231.
Kepecs, A., Uchida, N. and Mainen, Z.F. 2007. Rapid and Precise Control of Sniffing during Olfactory Discrimination in Rats. J. Neurophys. 98:205-213.
Kepecs, A. and Raghavachari, S. 2007. Gating information by two-state membrane potential fluctuations. J. Neurophysiol. 97:3015-3023.
Uchida, N., Kepecs, A. and Mainen, Z.F. 2006. Seeing at a glance, smelling in a whiff: rapid forms of perceptual decision making. Nat. Rev. Neuroscience. 7:485-491.
Kepecs, A., Wang, . X.-J, Lisman, J. 2002. Bursting neurons signal input slope. J. Neuroscience. 22: 9053-9062.