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Research groups

Matthew Rushworth FRS

MA DPhil

Watts Chair and Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Head of Department

  • Head of Department
  • Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator

Neural mechanisms of decision making and action selection

I am interested in how the brain makes decisions.  Every day we make multiple choices about the best course of action to take in a variety of situations.  My research is aimed at understanding the brain processes that allow us to work out how good the outcome of a choice might be and which allow us to make decisions between multiple choices.

I have a particular focus on the role played by areas of prefrontal and cingulate cortex.  We have found that activity in these brain regions changes as a function of our expectations about how good a choice will be and when a decision is made.

When cognitive processes, such as those involved in decision-making, unfold they involve a number of different brain events.  I am also interested in looking at the connexions between brain regions and the interactions they mediate during decision-making and attentional selection.  

The lab's focus is on understanding how decision-making mechanisms work in the healthy brain.  It is important to understand them because decision-making is such a fundamental aspect of our mental life.  In addition, however, we think that some of these processes go awry when people suffer from psychological illnesses.