cold springs harbor laboratory
churchland lab
Introduction

The study of decision-making provides a window on the family of brain functions that comprise cognition. It intervenes between perception and action, and can link one to the other. Although much is known about both sensory processing and motor control, much less is known about the circuitry connecting them. Some of the most interesting circuits are those that make it possible to deliberate among different interpretations of sensory information before making a choice about what to do.

In my laboratory, we investigate the neural machinery underlying decision-making. We use carefully designed paradigms that encourage experimental subjects to deliberate over incoming sensory evidence before making a decision. We collect behavioral data on decision-making tasks from both humans and rodents. To connect this behavior to its underlying neural circuitry, we measure electrophysiological responses of cortical neurons in rodents as they perform the task. Our current focus is on parietal cortex because this area appears to be at the midpoint between sensory processing and motor planning. We also use theoretical models of varying complexity to further constrain how the neural responses we observe might drive the behavior. This approach generates insights into sensory processing, motor planning and complex cognitive function.

Our long-term goal is to build on the foundation for decision-making that has been established largely by examining decisions about visual stimuli. Ultimately, we hope to understand how the brain can make decisions that integrate inputs from our multiple senses, stored memories and innate impulses.

To find out what we have been doing lately, check out our blog here:


Lab News

March, 2014
Anne is an invited speaker at the 2014 Cosyne meeting in Salt Lake City.

October, 2013
Anne's blog is selected to be an official blog for the Society for Neuroscience 2013 Meeting.

August, 2013
Anne gives "Secret Science Club" lecture at the Bell House in Brooklyn. Click here to see the video!

May, 2013
"Dynamic weighting of multisensory stimuli," by John Sheppard, David Raposo and Anne Churchland is published in the Journal of Vision.

February, 2013
Undergraduate researcher Eleanor Batty awarded NSF travel fellowship to attend Cosyne.

December, 2012
Anne wins an award from the Chapman Trust.

July, 2012
Anne wins the Society for Neuroscience Trubatch Career Development Award.

May, 2012
Anne's paper, "New advances in understanding decision among multiple alternatives," written with Jochen Ditterich, appears in Current Opinion in Neurobiology.

May, 2012
Anne wins McKnight Scholar award.

April, 2012
Graduate Student John Sheppard is awarded fellowships from the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.

March, 2012
"Multisensory decision-making in rats and humans," by David Raposo, John Sheppard, Paul Schrater and Anne Churchland, is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

February, 2012
Graduate student Onyekachi Odoemene studies probability summation during his rotation.

February, 2012
David Raposo & John Sheppard present work at the Computational and Systems Neuroscience (COSYNE) meeting in Salt Lake City.

NIH

Chapman Foundation John Merck McKnight NSF