29 May 2017
Speaker: Dr Redmond O'Connell, Associate Professor, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland.
Title: Linking computational and neurophysiological characterisations of the decision making process
Date: Friday 2 June 2017
Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm, followed by a light lunch
Venue: Lecture Theatre S1, 16 Rainforest Walk
Sequential sampling models, which characterise decision making as a process of accumulating sensory evidence to a threshold, have provided a rich theoretical foundation for modern experimental neuroscience. While these models demonstrate that decision making can be reduced to a one-dimensional process, the reality is that decisions are formed within multi-layered, hierarchical networks. With careful paradigm design it is possible to isolate and monitor activity at key processing levels along the sensorimotor hierarchy within the human electroencephalogram (EEG) including signals that reflect sensory encoding, evidence accumulation, motor preparation and action execution. I will present data from two recent experiments that highlight the potential for this approach to garner new insights into the neural mechanisms underpinning decision formation. In the first, we examined the neural adaptations that are enacted when decisions are made under time pressure and observed distinct changes at all key processing levels. In the second, we examined the impact of aging on decision formation and observed a mixture of positive and negative changes. Finally, I will examine ways in which these neurophysiological observations can be used to test and refine computational decision models.
Redmond O'Connell received his PhD in 2007 from Trinity College Dublin before completing postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Queensland and the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN). He joined the faculty of the School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin in 2011 and is a principal investigator at TCIN. Dr O’Connell also holds an adjunct Senior Research Fellowship at Monash University. The primary focus of Dr O'Connell’s research is to expose the neural principles and processes that underpin both normal and abnormal decision making and involves a variety of brain measurement techniques.