Speaker: Dr. O’Dhaniel Mullette-Gillman

Title:  From count to worth – neural mechanisms of the value-to-utility transformation

Date: Friday, 4 March, 1-2 pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room) 


When choosing between options, we do not simply choose the option that is the most numerous or largest. Rather, we must first transform the options from objective count to subjective worth in order to determine the best one. We sought the neural mechanisms of this value-to-utility transformation, localizing it to the dorsal anterior midcingulate cortex (daMCC), with in-study replication. The daMCC encodes the information necessary to convert from value (count) to utility (worth). For a given value, daMCC activation corresponds to diminished subjective valuation and deactivation to enhanced subjective valuation. Effective connectivity analyses identified a network of regions that may provide contextual information to the daMCC and allow for outputs to modulate valuative signals. These novel results identify the neural locus through which value, context, and preferences are integrated to produce subjective valuation. I will discuss these results and their integration with our prior studies (such as the neural basis of emotional modulation of moral decision making) and our on-going studies investigating the integration of value across domains. 

About the Speaker:

Dr. O’Dhaniel Mullette-Gillman is an Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore in the Psychology Department of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, an Assistant Professor at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Neuroscience in the Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders Program, and a Principle Investigator at SINAPSE (Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology). He received his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Dartmouth College, under the supervision of Profs. Jennifer Groh and Yale Cohen, investigating the integration of visual and auditory spatial signals within the parietal cortex. Post-doctoral position with Prof. Paul Glimcher at NYU’s Center for Neural Science, investigating the role of dopamine in value learning. Post-doctoral position with Prof. Scott Huettel at Duke University in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Brain Imaging and Analysis Center, investigating the neural basis of valuation and executive functions (Decision Neuroscience / Neuroeconomics) across multiple methodologies – fMRI, tryptophan depletion, hormones, and behavioral genetics. 

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