New study set to unravel the neurobiology of human decision-making

ONR

Humans make decisions across a variety of settings, often in the face of stress, uncertainty, or time pressure. The impact can be great.

In a current study for the U.S. Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research (Global), MICCN researchers will provide a detailed understanding of the neurobiology of human decision-making, in particular, perceptual decision-making. Perceptual decision-making refers to the basic processes that transform sensory information into action, and it is thought to be an ideal paradigm for unlocking the secrets of human decision-making.

“By linking tasks of perceptual decision-making with electrophysiology – i.e., EEG – in humans, we will identify discrete neural signatures of the information processing stages intervening between sensation and action,” Professor Bellgrove, lead researcher and MICCN Director of Research said.

Furthermore, the team will use transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in an attempt to temporarily disrupt neural activity while humans are performing perceptual decision-making tasks.

“By targeting TMS to different parts of the brain at the different time-points between sensation and action, we will understand ‘when’ and ‘where’ different parts of the brain act in the service of decision-making,” Professor Bellgrove said.

Identifying these objective neural markers of decision-making is clinically important as there are numerous disorders where decision-making is impaired. It is hoped that this work will help to isolate discrete deficits in a range of conditions from stroke to ADHD to dyslexia.

“We are very grateful to have been given this opportunity through ONR Global, and look forward to reporting back our outcomes,” Professor Bellgrove said.

MICCN congratulates Professor Bellgrove and the team on this fantastic achievement.

For more information on this research, contact Professor Mark Bellgrove at Mark.Bellgrove@monash.edu.

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