Decisions involve choosing an action based on evidence, but many real-world problems have multiple solutions, appearing to necessitate a higher order decision of “how to decide”. Whereas most animals are capable of coping with volatile environments by switching between different decision strategies, we are only beginning to unravel the neural circuit dynamics and computations governing the emergence, selection and change of decision strategies.
Investigating how the brain imagines multiple solutions to solving problems and switches between them is essential to understand adaptive behavior and could also inform us about more complex cognitive processes involving flexibility, such as problem solving, abstract reasoning, and creative thinking.
To understand the distributed neural circuits and mechanisms that support flexible reasoning, we measure and manipulate neurons in interconnected cortical and subcortical areas while mice make complex decisions in ethologically relevant contexts. Specifically, we leverage recent progress made in large-scale recording technologies paired with targeted cell-specific temporal control of neural activity to characterize how key regions of the mouse brain dynamically interact during decision-making. We collaborate with theoreticians to test normative theories against large-scale neural recordings and to develop innovative methods for data analysis.
Our research is made possible through the generous support from several funding sources.