During value-based decision making, we often evaluate the value of each option sequentially by shifting our attention, even when the options are presented simultaneously. Here I will talk about the current evidence in favor of a sequential decision-making process in the brain. In particular, I will discuss how attention may play an important role during sequential decision making. We will focus our discussion on the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which has been suggested to encode value during value-based decision making. The new experiments from our lab show that the OFC neurons encode the value only one stimulus at a time, and attention is the guiding signal that chooses the stimulus. Attention modulates OFC activity through a winner-take-all mechanism and can be explained by a normalization model. Our results provide important insights toward the neural mechanism of value-based decision making
Dr. YANG Tianming obtained his B.S. degree in the Department of Biochemistry at Fudan University. He received his Ph. D. in neuroscience at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, investigating the neural plasticity in visual cortices under the advice of Dr. John Maunsell. He then did his postdoctoral research with Dr. Michael Shadlen then at the University of Washington, Seattle, studying the neural mechanism underlying probabilistic reasoning. In 2008, Dr. YANG became a sta scientist in the Section of Neuropsychology at the National Institute of Mental Health, USA, working on the reward circuitry in the brain. Since 2013, Dr. YANG works at the Institute of Neuroscience as Investigator and Head of the Laboratory of Neural Mechanisms of Decision Making and Cognition. He combines behavior, electrophysiology, and computational approaches to study the neural mechanisms of decision making and other higher cognitive functions.
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