Co-supervisors: Dr Hans S. Crombag and Dr Eisuke Koya. School of Psychology and Sussex Neuroscience.
Project : Studies in laboratory animals allow for more in-depth examinations of underlying brain mechanisms of perception and attention. To measure incentive learning effects, researchers typically use measures, such as approach behaviour or lever pressing, which fail to dissociate perceptual, attentional processes from motivational ones; the proposed project seeks to remedy this. Using both established and/or newly developed signal detection-based methods, the project will examine the effects of (reward-based) incentive learning on visual or auditory perception thresholds and biases, and establish whether fluctuations in incentive value (e.g. as a result of devaluation, hunger), are expressed at the perceptual level. This project will involve a combination of modern neuroscience approaches, including fibre photometry, optogenetics, and ex vivo electrophysiology, to precisely characterise underlying neurobiological mechanisms; including in neocortex (our initial pilot data show cue-evoked neuronal responses in auditory cortex) and the basal ganglia.