Cortical mechanisms underlying human behavioural control. (360G-Wellcome-099715_Z_12_Z)
Our brains devote substantial resources towards making profitable choices by often selecting courses of actions with high value, and seldom those with low value. The orbitofrontal cortex has been shown to represent an internal model of the world that allows it to make precise associations between stimuli and rewards and to flexibly guide a goal-oriented behaviour. The hippocampus also has a model of the environment, however it remains debatable if it is restricted to spatial representations only, or if it has a more general role. Interestingly, both of these brain areas have been shown, separately, to make very similar inferences that influence future behaviour. However, their interactions for guiding goal-oriented behaviour are not sufficiently understood. During my DPhil, I aim to study the interactions between the orbitofrontal cortex and the hippocampus using non-invasive human neuroimagingtechniques. My key goals are to dissociate between their functional roles and underlying mechanisms for making stimulus-stimulus and stimulus-reward associations and to explore how these associations are represented in the brain.
£159,340 25 Jun 2012