Wallis Lab
2. Prefrontal mechanisms of hierarchical reinforcement learning

Lead Investigator: Feng-kuei Chiang

Potential treatments: Depression, addiction, schizophrenia, Parkinson's

The successful attainment of long-range and/or complex goals requires simple action sequences to be chunked into increasingly more intricate subgoals which can be compounded until the desired outcome is achieved. Psychologists have long been aware of this hierarchical structure to human behavior which may become impaired in clinical populations, such as those with schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, addiction, and depression; yet the neural basis remains poorly understood. Drawing from the disciplines of psychology, neuroscience, and computer science I seek to elucidate the neural mechanisms of hierarchical reinforcement learning in the prefrontal cortex.