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Webinar – Nils Kolling

Friday 19 March / 11:30 - 12:30

On Zoom. Link will be sent my email.

Title: Planning, motivation and decision making during reward-guided choice and learning


Deciding between apples and oranges has been an age-old question not just for hungry shoppers but within the field of decision-making research. However, very rarely have researchers considered the possibility to reject either and move on to the next shelf. I have previously argued that such a sequential decision making framework is not just essential for understanding foraging in animals in the wild, but also ecological, real life, behaviour in humans1,2. While it is intuitive that real life decision strategies require temporally extended coherent behaviours2 and rely on prospection, maintained motivation and sequential adaptation, those cognitive and neural processes remain poorly understand. In the first part of my talk I will present our recent cognitive model for sequential search decisions, its underlying neural dynamics3. In the second part I will talk about how more complex sequential behaviours could be supported by learning. Specifically, I will discuss multiple representations of changing reward environments in the anterior cingulate cortex4,5 and how the changeability of the reward environment can affect how rare reward experiences are processed in orbitofrontal cortex.


  1. Kolling N, Akam T. (Reinforcement?) Learning to forage optimally. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2017;46:162-169. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2017.08.008
  2. Kolling N, O’Reilly JX. State-change decisions and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex: the importance of time. Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2018;22:152-160. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2018.06.017
  3. Kolling N, Scholl J, Chekroud A, Trier HA, Rushworth MFS. Prospection, Perseverance, and Insight in Sequential Behavior. Neuron. 2018;99(5):1069-1082.e7. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2018.08.018
  4. Meder D, Kolling N, Verhagen L, et al. Simultaneous representation of a spectrum of dynamically changing value estimates during decision making. Nat Commun. 2017;8(1):1-11. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-02169-w
  5. Wittmann MK, Kolling N, Akaishi R, et al. Predictive decision making driven by multiple time-linked reward representations in the anterior cingulate cortex. Nat Commun. 2016;7:12327. doi:10.1038/ncomms12327

Nils Kolling
BBSRC Future Leader Fellow
Oxford University


Invited by

Etienne Coutureau
Team leader
Team Decision and Adaptation

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Friday 19 March
11:30 - 12:30
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