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Virtual fMRI brown bag: May 22

Please join us for an fMRI brown bag, to be given by Akram Bakkour, Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University.

Time: 12:00-1:00pm

Place: Zoom - details tbd

The role of memory in bridging past experience with future decisions


Decisions arise through a process of deliberation comprising evaluation of evidence and consideration of the values associated with options. However, the cognitive and neural mechanisms of deliberation during decisions based on preferences, in particular, remain poorly understood. To address this gap, my work leverages a neural and computational framework that posits that evidence is sampled over time, and when enough evidence is sampled, a commitment to a choice is made. This sequential sampling with optional stopping framework links deliberation to reaction time and offers testable hypotheses about the relationship between evidence, choice, and the time it takes to make that choice. For decisions about a perceptual stimulus, most of the evidence derives from information external to the organism. For decisions based on preferences, the evidence must derive from internal processes. The central hypothesis guiding my work is that internal evidence is derived from relational memory mechanisms that rely on the hippocampus. In this talk, I will present a series of studies that draw on behavior, neuroimaging and computational modeling in healthy individuals and patients with hippocampal damage. The findings show that the hippocampus is involved in, and necessary for, deliberation during value-based decisions. They lay the foundation for a mechanistic understanding of how memory guides decision making and have implications for the way we think about the function of memory.