What makes the taste of ice cream so enjoyable? What drives people to engage in potentially risky behaviors? Why are certain people susceptible to addiction whereas others are not?

Broadly, I’m interested in how the brain processes information about reward, including the computation of affective subjective experience (i.e., pleasure), and how the brain uses this information to drive real-world appetitive behaviors. To get at these questions, my research utilizes naturalistic stimuli (e.g., food or alcohol commercials; dynamic videos depicting appetitive behaviors) that aim to approximate an individual’s experience in the real-world, which can then be used to understand aspects of individual differences in appetitive or risky behaviors.

In addition to this, I have a strong interest in understanding the dynamics of the brain on a variety of timescales. For example, how does affective information influence brain state transitions over time, and how do these states motivate behavior? How do brain dynamics influence cognition and behavior on shorter timescales (e.g., moment-to-moment feelings or decisions), as well as on longer timescales (e.g., over the course of the lifespan)?