Samuel M. McClure, PhD
Department of Psychology
Arizona State University
Dr. McClure is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology where he directs the Decision Neuroscience Lab. His research is in the area of Cognitive Neuroscience. Specifically, he is interested in brain systems important for learning the value of items in the world and/or actions required to obtain these items. This interest has led him to a broader interest in decision-making. One line of work in his lab investigates how we value rewards that can only be obtained in the future. This valuation process is fundamental for our ability to delay gratification, and addresses classic intertemporal choice problems from behavioral economics.
From a neuroscience perspective, his research interests begin with the midbrain dopamine system. He uses fMRI to investigate dopaminergic function pertaining to valuation, decision-making, and cognitive control processes. His team has made methodological contributions that permit studying the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra directly, and they are interested in parsing computational processes subserved by these nuclei above and beyond reporting reward prediction errors. This interest extends to striatal function: recent work from his lab has used fMRI in conjunction with DTI and functional connectivity measures to parcellate distinct cognitive processes subserved by separate striatal regions. The aim is to link distinct mesostriatal and corticostriatal pathways to computational models of cogntion in order to elucidate the nature of mental processes involved in learning and decision-making. These neural and cognitive processes have direct relevance to addiction, ADHD, and Parkinson's Disease, and he is deeply involved in projects applying his findings to these areas.
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