To understand how people make decisions, our laboratory adopts many of the practices of behavioral economics (e.g, incentive-compatible choices, full information). This provides an important advantage for cognitive neuroscience research: it allows us to specify the factors underlying choice, both within and across individuals, with great precision. Moreover, many (but not all!) import real-world choices can be described using economic terms: cost-benefit tradeoffs, utility functions, risk and ambiguity, and temporal delay. Our core goal is to use knowledge of the functional properties of the brain to develop better understanding of economic phenomena. In essence, we seek models of brain function that provide new insights for models of behavior.
We explore these and other aspects of decision making using functional magnetic resonance imaging, eye-tracking, measures of behavior, and computational modeling. We collaborate with other laboratories at Duke, at Duke-NUS Medical School, and at other institutions to extend this work via different techniques (e.g., EEG, TMS) and new populations (e.g., sleep deprivation, younger children and older adults, addiction).