Speaker: Prof. Tianming Yang, Institute of Neuroscience, China

Time: 13:00 - 15:00, Nov 16.

Venue: Room 1113, Wang Kezhen Building

Abstract: Attention and value are two tightly related factors that affect our cognition and decision making. In this talk, I will discuss how attention interacts with the value encoding in the prefrontal cortex. We will focus our discussion on the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which has been suggested to encode value during value-based decision making. The new experiments from our lab show that the OFC neurons encode the value only one stimulus at a time, and attention is the guiding signal that chooses the stimulus. Attention modulates OFC activity through a winner-take-all mechanism and can be explained by a normalization model. In comparison, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex encodes the value of both the attended and the unattended stimuli. Our results provide important insights toward the neural mechanism of value-based decision making.

Bio: Dr. Tianming Yang obtained his B.S. degree in the Department of Biochemistry at Fudan University. He received his Ph. D. in neuroscience at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, investigating the neural plasticity in visual cortices under the advice of Dr. John Maunsell. He then did his postdoctoral research with Dr. Michael Shadlen then at the University of Washington, Seattle, studying the neural mechanism underlying probabilistic reasoning. Since 2013, Dr. Yang works at the Institute of Neuroscience as Investigator and Head of the Laboratory of Neural Mechanisms of Decision Making and Cognition. His group is interested in the neural mechanisms underlying decision-making and high cognitive functions. Using single unit electrophysiology techniques, they record and analyze neural activities in different brain areas when animals are making complex decisions. Ultimately, their research leads to the complete understanding of the neural basis of human intelligence.

Host: Lusha Zhu