Social decision making and Neuroeconomics

The prefrontal cortex is divided into anatomically distinct sub-regions but their specific computational functions remain unclear. We combine fMRI and models of decision making developed in behavioral economics and mathematical psychology to investigate the computations performed by distinct prefrontal cortex regions. In particular, we investigate the functional contributions of orbitofrontal sub-regions and of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to the acquisition of values and the selection between options. We study processes involved during cognitive control, perceptual decision making and value-based decision making. A recent focus of interests is to characterize the computational principles and the neural mechanisms governing social decision making.

Selected publications

- C Qu*, E Météreau*, L Butera*, M-C Villeval and Dreher JC, How the brain weighs concerns for social image, moral values and extrinsic rewards, Plos Biology, 2019 Jun 6;17(6):e3000283

- I Obeso , M Moisa , CC Ruff, JC Dreher, A causal role for right temporo-parietal junction in signaling moral conflict, eLife, 7:e40671, 2018
– Domenech P, Redouté J, Koechlin E, Dreher JC, The neuro-computational architecture of value-based selection in the human brain, Cerebral Cortex, vol. 28, no 2, p. 585-601, 2018.

-Yang Hu, Lisheng He, Lei Zhang, Thorben Wölk, Dreher JC, Bernd Weber, Spreading inequality: Neural computations underlying paying-it-forward reciprocity, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience: SCAN, nsy040,, 2018
– Qu C, Ligneul R, Van der Hernst, Dreher JC, An integrative interdisciplinary perspective on social dominance hierarchies, Trends in Cognitive Science, 21(11):893-908, 2017.
– Park S, Goiame S, O’Connor D and Dreher J-C, Integration of individual and social information for decision-making in groups of different sizes, Plos Biology, 28;15(6):e2001958, 2017.
– Ligneul R, Obeso I, Ruff C and Dreher J-C, Dynamical representation of dominance relationships in the human medial prefrontal cortex, Current Biology 26, 1–9, 2016.

Motivation and Reward system

Our behavior is motivated by rewards of different nature among which we frequently need to choose. We are addressing fundamental questions about the nature of motivated behavior to understand:
– How the human brain processes rewards and punishments?
– How computational factors such as reward probability and uncertainty are coded in the brain?
– How different types of rewards engage specific brain systems?
– How the brain assigns values to different options under consideration?
– How gonadal steroid hormones modulate reward-related mechanisms and value-based decision making ?

Selected publications

- L Bottemanne, Dreher JC, Vicarious rewards modulate the drift rate of evidence accumulation from the drift diffusion model, Front. Behav. Neurosci., 2019
– Bertoloni T, Bado P, Hoefle S, Engel A, Zahn R, Oliveira Souza R, Moll J*, Dreher JC*, Neural responses underlying altruistic motivation in soccer fans, Scientific Reports, 16122, 2017.  (*: co-last author)
– Dreher JC, Dunne S, Pazderska A, Frodl T, Nolan J.J, O’Doherty J.P, Testosterone Causes Both Prosocial and Antisocial Status-enhancing Behaviours in Human Males, PNAS USA, Oct 11, Vol 113, 41, 2016
– Y Li, G Vanni-Mercier, F Mauguière, J Isnard and Dreher J-C, Reward risk coding in the orbitofrontal cortex. An intracranial recording study in humans, Brain, 139(Pt 4):1295-309, 2016.
– E Metereau and JC Dreher. The medial orbitofrontal cortex encodes a general expected value signal during anticipation of both appetitive and aversive events, Cortex, Vol. 63, Pages 42–54, 2015


Neurobiology of diseases

Understanding the neural bases of reward information and decision making processes are of crucial importance because of the fundamental role of rewards in behavioral processes such as motivation, learning and cognition and because of their theoretical and clinical implications for understanding dysfunctions of the dopaminergic reward system and a number of neuropathologies involving motivational and decision making disorders. We are studying the reward dopaminergic system and decision making mechanisms in healthy aging subjects and in a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders in which motivation or decision making are dysfunctional, such as Parkinson’s disease, pathological gambling, eating disorders, schizophrenia and patients with focal prefrontal cortex lesions. One approach we are currently taking is to compare how different types of rewards are processed in brain disorders which are more specific of one reward domain (eg. food for anorexia, money in pathological gambling …).

Selected publications

- Li Y*, Wang Z*, Boileau I, Dreher JC, Gelskov S, Genauck A, Joutsa J, Kaasinen V, Perales J, Romanczuk-Seiferth N, Ruiz de Lara CM, Siebner HR, van Holst RJ, van Timmeren T, Sescousse G. Altered orbitofrontal sulcogyral patterns in gambling disorder: a multicenter study, Translational Psychiatry, 2019
- Caldú, X., Ottino, J., Sánchez-Garre, C., Hernan, I., Tor, C., Sender-Palacios, M.J., Dreher JC, Garolera, M., & Jurado, M.A.. Effect of the catechol-O-methyltransferase Val 158Met polymorphism on theory of mind in obesity. European Eating Disorders Review, 2019
- R Girard, I Obeso, S Thobois, S A. Park, T Vidal, E Favre, M Ulla, E Broussolle, P Krack, F Durif and JC Dreher, Wait and you shall see: sexual delay discounting in hypersexual Parkinson’s disease, Brain, Jan 1;142(1):146-162. doi: 10.1093/brain/awy298, 2019
- A M. Pereira, B M. Campos, A C Coan, L F Pegoraro, T J. R. Rezende, I Obeso, P Dalgalarrondo, J Costa da Costa, JC Dreher, F Cendes, Differences in cortical structure and functional MRI connectivity in high functioning autism, Frontiers Neurology, 9, 539, ID: 320155,, 2018
- Girard R, Metereau E, Dechaud H, Pugeat M, Qu C, Dreher JC, Hormone therapy at early post-menopause increases cognitive control-related prefrontal activity, Scientific reports, 21;7:44917. doi: 10.1038/srep44917, 2017


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