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The Stauffer Laboratory is located at the University of Pittsburgh, where we study risk and reward behaviors of non-human primates. 

Uncertainty is a critical component of values and decisions. We are interested in different ‘forms’ of uncertainty, including risk and ambiguity, and how these influence value and decision making. We use decision-making paradigms with Rhesus monkeys to uncover attitudes about uncertainty, and we use electrophysiological recordings from dopamine neurons to see how ambiguity effects the neural coding of reward.

Individuals often face complex choices where value is not easily realized and the goal is to select the optimal rewards. The neurocomputational mechanisms of deliberation likely involve reward and memory structures including the frontal cortex, basal ganglia (including dopamine neurons), and hippocampus. The goals of this research are to formalize the investigation of value deliberation using mathematical optimization theory, and to uncover the neuronal algorithms and implementation of optimization over value.

A major part of this effort includes elucidating cell types in the cognitive and reward centers of the primate brain, and developing cell type-specific tools for circuit-based investigations.

Current Projects

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Circuits, Cell Types, and AAVs

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