Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, PSYCH-PHD (2016)
Bachelor of Arts, University of California San Diego, Int'l Studies - Economics (2005)
Distinct neural circuits support incentivized inhibition.
2018; 178: 435–44
The ability to inhibit responses under high stakes, or "incentivized inhibition," is critical for adaptive impulse control. While previous research indicates that right ventrolateral prefrontal cortical (VLPFC) activity plays a key role in response inhibition, less research has addressed how incentives might influence this circuit. By combining a novel behavioral task, functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), we targeted and characterized specific neural circuits that support incentivized inhibition. Behaviorally, large incentives enhanced responses to obtain money, but also reduced response inhibition. Functionally, activity in both right VLPFC and right anterior insula (AIns) predicted successful inhibition for high incentives. Structurally, characterization of a novel white-matter tract connecting the right AIns and VLPFC revealed an association of tract coherence with incentivized inhibition performance. Finally, individual differences in right VLPFC activity statistically mediated the association of right AIns-VLPFC tract coherence with incentivized inhibition performance. These multimodal findings bridge brain structure, brain function, and behavior to clarify how individuals can inhibit impulses, even in the face of high stakes.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.055
View details for PubMedID 29803959
Altered prefrontal correlates of monetary anticipation and outcome in chronic pain.
Chronic pain may alter both affect- and value-related behaviors, which represents a potentially treatable aspect of chronic pain experience. Current understanding of how chronic pain influences the function of brain reward systems, however, is limited. Using a monetary incentive delay task and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we measured neural correlates of reward anticipation and outcomes in female participants with the chronic pain condition of fibromyalgia (N = 17) and age-matched, pain-free, female controls (N = 15). We hypothesized that patients would demonstrate lower positive arousal, as well as altered reward anticipation and outcome activity within corticostriatal circuits implicated in reward processing. Patients demonstrated lower arousal ratings as compared with controls, but no group differences were observed for valence, positive arousal, or negative arousal ratings. Group fMRI analyses were conducted to determine predetermined region of interest, nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), responses to potential gains, potential losses, reward outcomes, and punishment outcomes. Compared with controls, patients demonstrated similar, although slightly reduced, NAcc activity during gain anticipation. Conversely, patients demonstrated dramatically reduced mPFC activity during gain anticipation-possibly related to lower estimated reward probabilities. Further, patients demonstrated normal mPFC activity to reward outcomes, but dramatically heightened mPFC activity to no-loss (nonpunishment) outcomes. In parallel to NAcc and mPFC responses, patients demonstrated slightly reduced activity during reward anticipation in other brain regions, which included the ventral tegmental area, anterior cingulate cortex, and anterior insular cortex. Together, these results implicate altered corticostriatal processing of monetary rewards in chronic pain.
View details for DOI 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001232
View details for PubMedID 29790868
Distinct midbrain and habenula pathways are involved in processing aversive events in humans.
journal of neuroscience
2015; 35 (1): 198-208
Emerging evidence implicates the midbrain dopamine system and its interactions with the lateral habenula in processing aversive information and learning to avoid negative outcomes. We examined neural responses to unexpected, aversive events using methods specialized for imaging the midbrain and habenula in humans. Robust activation to aversive relative to neutral events was observed in the habenula and two regions within the ventral midbrain: one located within the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the other in the substantia nigra (SN). Aversive processing increased functional connectivity between the VTA and the habenula, putamen, and medial prefrontal cortex, whereas the SN exhibited a different pattern of functional connectivity. Our findings provide evidence for a network comprising the VTA and SN, the habenula, and mesocorticolimbic structures that supports processing aversive events in humans.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0927-14.2015
View details for PubMedID 25568114
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4287142
Social Cognitive Conflict Resolution: Contributions of Domain-General and Domain-Specific Neural Systems
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
2010; 30 (25): 8481-8488
Cognitive control mechanisms allow individuals to behave adaptively in the face of complex and sometimes conflicting information. Although the neural bases of these control mechanisms have been examined in many contexts, almost no attention has been paid to their role in resolving conflicts between competing social cues, which is surprising given that cognitive conflicts are part of many social interactions. Evidence about the neural processing of social information suggests that two systems--the mirror neuron system (MNS) and mental state attribution system (MSAS)--are specialized for processing nonverbal and contextual social cues, respectively. This could support a model of social cognitive conflict resolution in which competition between social cues would recruit domain-general cognitive control mechanisms, which in turn would bias processing toward the MNS or MSAS. Such biasing could also alter social behaviors, such as inferences made about the internal states of others. We tested this model by scanning participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging while they drew inferences about the social targets' emotional states based on congruent or incongruent nonverbal and contextual social cues. Conflicts between social cues recruited the anterior cingulate and lateral prefrontal cortex, brain areas associated with domain-general control processes. This activation was accompanied by biasing of neural activity toward areas in the MNS or MSAS, which tracked, respectively, with perceivers' behavioral reliance on nonverbal or contextual cues when drawing inferences about targets' emotions. Together, these data provide evidence about both domain-general and domain-specific mechanisms involved in resolving social cognitive conflicts.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0382-10.2010
View details for Web of Science ID 000279076900014
View details for PubMedID 20573895
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2916865