It is widely accepted that the activity of many dopamine neurons and dopamine release in parts of the striatum signal new information about potential future rewards, which in turn can be used to shape decision making.  Nonetheless, the precise content and function of these dopamine signals remains a matter of controversy.  I'll present ongoing work examining how dopaminergic correlates of reward prediction and choice recorded in rodents are modulated by action requirements, task structure and context, and how disrupting these signals alters behaviour.  These data - along with others' - demonstrate that dopamine activity can be shaped by a mixture of influences over different timescales and across different parts of striatum.  However, while dopamine might report a rich range of signals, its causal influence over reward-guided behaviour can nonetheless be surprisingly constrained.


I'm a Wellcome Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford.  I did my DPhil in Neuroscience at Oxford, postdoctoral work at Oxford and, as a Wellcome Advanced Training Fellow, at the University of Washington, Seattle, before establishing my lab back in Oxford in 2010.  Research in my group is focused on understanding the neural mechanisms shaping motivation and adaptive reward seeking, with a particular interest into how neurotransmitters such as dopamine regulate these processes in rodents on a moment-by-moment timescale.  To do this, we use in vivo techniques to enable fine-scale measurement and manipulation of neurochemistry and neural circuits integrated with rich behavioural tasks that can tease apart animals’ behavioural strategies and motivations.

This will be a hybrid event.