Exploring the neural circuits that drive value-based decision-making and motivated behavior.

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In the McGinty Lab at Rutgers University in Newark, we ask how the brain represents value, and how these value representations guide actions and decisions. Our ultimate goal is to understand the neural basis of everyday decision-making and motivated behavior.

The lab’s core technique is behavioral electrophysiology. We measure single neuron activity in the frontal lobe, limbic system, and basal ganglia, in animals engaged in decision-making and other value-based tasks. These experiments also incorporate array recording, microstimulation, pharmacological, and computational techniques. With these techniques we aim to understand how value is encoded across a number of brain regions, and, critically, how the functional circuitry connecting these regions enables the brain to construct a value code from sensory stimuli.

The McGinty Lab will open in January of 2017, and we are seeking graduate students and postdocs. To learn about potential projects, contact Dr. McGinty at vince.mcginty@rutgers.edu. One area of particular interest is how decision-making behavior and frontal lobe value coding are influenced by visual attention during natural visual search. For more background, see McGinty, Rangel and Newsome (2016), and Krajbich et al. (2010).