My research is concerned with the neurobiological basis of decision making, at both the individual and the social (dyadic) level. It is generally accepted that there exist multiple, competing valuation systems in the brain (Rangel et al., 2008; Dayan, 2008). Studies of social decision making generally involve a trade-off between cooperation and self-interested behaviour. It has been proposed that there exist specialised social reward circuits in humans (such that behaving in a prosocial manner results in positive feelings, even if the financial/other material reward for that human is less than it would have been had s/he behaved selfishly) (Macdonald & Macdonald, 2010). However, very few studies to date allow the impact of social reward circuits (if they exist) to be disentangled from other individual reward circuits. My main research aim is to further understanding of the valuation mechanisms that contribute to decision making, and to disentangle social reward circuits (if they exist) from other individual material reward circuits.
Selected Recent Publications
Wright, N., Symmonds, M., Hodgson, K., FitzGerald, T., Crawford, B. & Dolan, R. (in press). Approach-avoidance processes contribute to dissociable impacts of risk and loss on choice. Journal of Neuroscience.