Our laboratory is focused on the study of the neural basis of behavior change. We are interested in the process of value construction, how values can be perturbed and changed and how these processes are manifested in the human brain. We study the multiple components of this process by designing novel behavioral paradigms and using converging research tools to analyze them. We use functional MRI, eye tracking and computational learning models to better understand human mental function and its underlying neural substrates. The lab currently focuses on studying the structural and functional plasticity underlying non-reinforced behavioral manipulations of snack food items in humans, as well as extending the scope of change to multiple domains of objects using other tools such as effort.
What We Do
We are using Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which employs magnetic fields in order to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the brain during tasks related to decision-making.
We are using an interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment, in order to create an experience that is similar to the ordinary physical reality.
We are using an eye tracker device for measuring eye positions and eye movement, by measuring either the fixation (where one is looking) or the motion of an eye relative to the head, during tasks.
We are using various disciplines that explore the cognitive processes related to decision making and the behavioral interactions between these processes. Our studies include various computational tasks.
Here are some of the projects that we are currently working on:
Characterizing habit learning in the human brain at the individual and group levels (using multi-modal MRI methods)
This project focuses on characterizing the formation and manifestation of habits in humans. We are particularly interested in the transition from goal-directed to habitual action control (through repetitive training). We use behavioral, physiological and multi-modal MRI methods in a well-powered sample. Specifically, we try to (1) replicate the substantial neurobehavioral findings of Tricomi et al. (2009), to date the only study that has demonstrated habit formation through repetitive training, (2) test for functional and microstructural neuroplasticity associated with habit formation and manifestation, (3) investigate the relationships between similar functional and microstructural plasticity and individual habit expression, and (4) try to predict individual tendency to form habits based on functional networks (at resting state). This study has been granted an “in principle acceptance” for a special registered report volume in Neuroimage.
Individualized learning and the underlying neural mechanism
In this project we aim to explore the relation between individuals’ learning progress and their physiological and neurological signals (e.g. eye-tracking, EMG and MRI), using a gamified VR environment to induce a closer to real life experience.
Language and Representation
In this project we aim to explore the role of underlying decision-making processes in fluent reading. We practice the field of computational psychiatry (Specifically tendency to depression) by exploring various aspects of representation, decision making and attention during fluent reading. The study incorporates natural language processing (NLP) tools to establish objective measures and by combining it with physiological and neural measures our goal is to characterize yet to be unveiled attributes of language understanding and semantics.
Sleep, Stress and Decision Making
Dor Werbner Kalron
This study combines decision-making research in the laboratory with field research approaches. We will conduct a longitudinal study to link participants behavior inside and outside the lab using wearable technology.
Effort and Motivation
The lab has obtained the Biopac package to collect physiological measurements. In this project we will use a dynamometer to test how physical force can be used to induce long lasting behavioral changes. This ecologically valid tool mimics exertion of physical force in the real world and can thus be used in controlled laboratory settings to test how effort influences behaiovral change.
CAT with Faces – fMRI study
Using fMRI we aim to uncover underlying plasticity processes induced by CAT with faces.
Value Representation and Change of Primary Reinforcers
This project focuses on human (mal) adaptive eating behavior. Every day, people choose to eat unhealthy food, despite being aware of severely damaging consequences, such as diabetes and heart disease. Many remain captives by primal behavior, despite technological and scientific advances of our time, even despite their own better judgment. I study the neural and behavioral processes of decision making, with emphasis on the comparison of different behavioral change interventions, and the exploration of sensory vs. value representations of tastes. I believe the key to effective interventions is understanding such behaviors. This way we can help people regain control of their well-being.
The Effect of Value and Arousal on Conscious Awareness
and Yael Solar Priel
This is a behavioral study, aimed to test whether subjective value (i.e., preferences) and arousal can influence conscious experience. We present IAPS (International Affective Picture System) stimuli using the Binocular Rivalry paradigm, in order to test dominance and access to awareness. This project is conducted in collaboration with Prof. Liad Mudrik from Tel Aviv University.
The relationship between memory and choices following non-reinforced behavioral change
Rotem Botvinik- Nezer
This project focuses on the role of memory processes in value-based decision-making. It is conducted in collaboration with the lab of Prof. Daphna Shohamy from Columbia University in NYC. We are using the non-reinforced cue-approach paradigm to study how memory is related to choices. We are testing choices, memory modifications and most importantly the relationships between memory and choices, following cue-approach training. We hypothesized that preference changes induced by cue-approach training are based on enhancement of memory accessibility, leading to greater preferences toward cued items by enhancing accessibility of their positive associative memories.