Daeyeol Lee PhD

Professor of Neurobiology and of Psychology

Research Interests

Neural mechanisms of sequence learning and selection, decision making under uncertainty, inter-temporal choice, token & conditioned reinforcements; Reinforcement learning; Behavioral economics and game theory; Function of primate prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia; Coding and transmission of information in a population of neurons

Current Projects

Research Projects in Lee Lab: The long-term goal of research in our laboratory is to understand how the processes of choosing appropriate behaviors and evaluating the outcomes of chosen actions are implemented by the neural networks in the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia of the primate brain.

Neuroeconomics and decision making. During decision making, many different types of information about reward and penalty, such as their quality, magnitude, probability and delay, must be estimated and combined appropriately. We investigate how these different types of information are integrated in the brain and ultimately influences the animal's choice.

Neural mechanism of timing. Timing is critical for all kinds of cognition and motor behaviors, but how the brain encodes time and how this influences the nature of information processing in various parts of the brain remains unknown. We investigate how multiple temporal intervals are monitored by the neurons in the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia.

Cognitive functions of the basal ganglia. Clinical observations suggest that the basal ganglia plays an essential role in a variety of cognitive and motor functions. We investigate how signals related to the animal's choice and outcome are transformed through the connection between the cortex and basal ganglia.

Research Summary

Decision making is ubiquitous, and the ability to develop the knowledge about the animal's environment from experience and use this knowledge to maximize the overall reward is essential for survival. Lee's laboratory focuses on the role of the prefrontal cortex and the basal ganglia in evaluating the outcomes of the animal's previous choices and incorporating this information to improve the animal's decision-making strategies.

His research is highly inter-disciplinary and capitalizes on the insights from formal theories of economics and reinforcement learning as well as computational neuroscience of neural coding and behavioral studies of decision making. His laboratory also develops novel behavioral paradigms that can probe the core processes of decision making. Combined with the use of multi-electrode recording systems, this research seeks to unravel the biological basis of willful actions.

Selected Publications

  • Seo H, Cai X, Donahue CH, Lee D (2014) Neural correlates of strategic reasoning during competitive games. Science. In press.
  • Livingstone MS, Pettine WW, Srihasam K, Moore BS, Morocz IA, Lee D (2014) Symbol addition by monkeys: evidence for normalized quantity coding. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA. 111:6822-6827.
  • Donahue CH, Seo H, Lee D (2013) Cortical signals for rewarded actions and strategic exploration. Neuron 80: 223-234
  • Newsome WT, Glimcher PW, Gottlieb J, Lee D, Platt ML (2013) Comment on "In monkeys making value-based decisions, LIP neurons encode salience and not action value". Science 340: 430.
  • Lee D (2013) Decision making: from neuroscience to psychiatry. Neuron 78: 233-248.
  • Kim H, Lee D, and Jung MW (2013) Signals for previous goal choice persist in the dorsomedial, but not dorsolateral striatum of rats. Journal of Neuroscience 33: 35-51.
  • Seo H and Lee D (2012) Neural basis of learning and preference during social decision making. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 22: 990-995
  • Lee D, Seo H, and Jung MW (2012) Neural basis of reinforcement learning and decision making. Annual Review of Neuroscience 35: 287-308
  • Vickery TJ, Chun MM, and Lee D (2011) Ubiquity and specificity of reinforcement signals throughout the human brain. Neuron 72: 166-177
  • Abe H and Lee D (2011) Distributed coding of actual and hypothetical outcomes in the orbital and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Neuron 70: 731-741.


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