John O'Doherty studies the neural basis of reward-related learning and decision making, complex computational problems that have come to be solved by the brain over the course of evolution. He's interested in how the human brain can learn from experience in order to make decisions that maximize future rewards and minimize future costs.
My main research interests are to develop an understanding of the brain systems involved in making decisions under uncertainty, representing the value of stimuli in the world, learning to predict future rewards, and in the flexible control of behavior to obtain reward. This is achieved through a combination of functional neuroimaging (fMRI) with computational models of learning and decision making. This approach enables a much more powerful form of inference than is traditionally made in functional imaging studies, identifying regions with a response profile consistent with a specific computational process rather than merely reporting the "activation" of a brain region in that task. Other interests include the functional neuroanatomy of human emotions, and neural structures involved in social cognition.