Ifat Levy PhD

Assistant Professor of Comparative Medicine and of Neurobiology

Research Interests

Decision-making; Value; Reward; Risk; Ambiguity; Functional MRI

Current Projects

  1. Risk and ambiguity in the negative domain – examining behavior and neural activation for decision in terms of risk and ambiguity between outcomes that include losses.
  2. Behavior and neural correlates of decision under risk and ambiguity across the lifespan.
  3. Decision parameters in obese and lean individuals – comparing attitudes towards decision parameters such as risk and ambiguity in different BMI groups.
  4. Implicit learning of value - behavior and neural correlates of value learning in conditioning paradigms and their relationship to choice processes.
  5. Representation of food in obese and lean subjects - how is food that is depicted in movies perceived and how does it affect choice.

Research Summary

I am interested in the neural mechanisms that underlie human decision-making, especially under risk and uncertainty, and in the way individual differences in decision-making are reflected by the neural activation. My studies combine functional MRI methods from cognitive neuroscience and experimental methods from behavioral economics to study the neural correlates of decision parameters and valuation processes. Similar paradigms are used in healthy young volunteers, as well as in adolescents, older adults and obese individuals in order to unravel changes in behavior and in neural activation that may be at the core of pathological behaviors such as extreme risk-taking in adolescents and overeating in obese individuals.

Selected Publications

  • Gilaie-Dotan S, Tymula A, Cooper N, Kable JW, Glimcher PW, and Levy I (in press). Neuroanatomy predicts individual risk attitudes. Journal of Neuroscience
  • Zhang Z, Manson K, Schiller D, and Levy I (2014) Impaired associative learning with food rewards in obese women. Current Biology 24:1731-1736
  • Tymula A, Rosenberg Belmaker LA, Ruderman L, Glimcher PW, and Levy I (2013) Like cognitive function, decision making across the life span shows profound age-related changes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 110: 17143-17148
  • Tymula A, Rosenberg Belmaker LA, Roy AK, Ruderman L, Manson K, Glimcher PW, Levy I (2012) Adolescents' risk-taking behavior is driven by tolerance to ambiguity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
  • Levy I, Lazzaro SC, Rutledge RB, and Glimcher PW (2011) Choice from non-choice: Predicting consumer preferences from blood oxygenation level-dependent signals obtained during passive viewing. Journal of Neuroscience 31(1):118-125
  • Levy I, Snell J, Nelson AJ, Rustichini A, and Glimcher PW (2010) Neural representation of subjective value under risk and ambiguity. Journal of Neurophysiology 103(2):1036-47
  • Levy I, Hasson U, Avidan G, Hendler T, and Malach R (2001) Center-periphery organization of human object areas. Nature Neuroscience 4(5): 533-539

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