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Chemistry of the adaptive mind: lessons from dopamine

Tuesday 10 May 2022, 4.00PM to 5.00pm

Speaker(s): Professor Roshan Cools, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour.

Abstract: The human brain faces a variety of computational dilemmas, including the flexibility/stability, the speed/accuracy and the labor/leisure tradeoff. I will argue that striatal dopamine is particularly well suited to dynamically regulate these computational tradeoffs depending on constantly changing task demands. This working hypothesis is grounded in evidence from recent studies on learning, motivation and cognitive control in human volunteers, using chemical PET, psychopharmacology, and/or fMRI. These studies also begin to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the huge variability in catecholaminergic drug effects across different individuals and across different task contexts. For example, I will demonstrate how effects of the most commonly used psychostimulant methylphenidate on learning, Pavlovian and effortful instrumental control depend on fluctuations in current environmental volatility, on individual differences in working memory capacity and on opportunity cost respectively.

Location: Online seminar