The traditional study of decision-making and the brain relies on artificial laboratory tasks. While these tasks have been invaluable, we know that our brains evolved to make complex continuous decisions in rich and rapidly changing environments. We believe that such decisions are not simply more complex, but engage the brain in different and unanticipated ways. Our lab has recently been exploring the neural basis of decision-making in more complex contexts. I will discuss two such context, prey-pursuit and natural free movement. I will present neuronal data collected from rhesus macaques as they perform these more naturalistic (but not fully natural) tasks, and discuss the implications of these data for theories of prefrontal function.
A picture of Dr Hayden setting up cameras at the Minnesota Zoo to monitor the 27 snow monkeys there.
Ben Hayden obtained his PhD from Jack Gallant (Berkeley) studying form vision and attention in area V4 and did a post-doc with Michael Platt (Duke) studying neural circuits of reward and decision-making. Since then he has run labs at Rochester and Minnesota. His work has focused on extending the neuroscience of decision-making into the more natural realm.
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