Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis InternationalĀ® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #39
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Functional Neuroimaging Studies of Reward Processing in the Human Brain

Saturday, May 26, 2012
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
6E (Convention Center)
Area: TBA; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Advanced
CE Instructor: Jessica Singer-Dudek, Ph.D.
Chair: Jessica Singer-Dudek (Teachers College, Columbia University)
MAURICIO DELGADO (Rutgers University)
Mauricio Delgado is an assistant professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He is the director of the Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab and the associate director of the Rutgers University Brain Imaging Center. Dr. Delgado completed his graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh under the direction of Dr. Julie Fiez in 2002. His research included one of the first studies to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of reward processing in humans. Dr. Delgado then moved to New York University for a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Elizabeth Phelps, where he continued studying human reward processing but also extended his research to understand aversive influences on brain and behavior. His research program at Rutgers University currently investigates how the human brain learns from rewards and punishments, how it uses this information to guide behavior during both simple decisions (e.g., learning actions which lead to desired outcomes) and complex social interactions (e.g., learning to trust another person), and how it controls or regulates our emotions to avoid maladaptive decision-making. Dr. Delgado was the recipient of the 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and his research is funded by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation.

Our understanding of the neural structures involved in processing reward-related information has its foundations on a rich animal literature and classical theories of learning. More recently, advances in methodological approaches, particularly neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), have allowed for the extension of these investigations to the human brain and helped delineate a basic reward circuit in humans. Central to this circuit is the role of cortico-striatum loops connecting regions involved in cognitive control (prefrontal cortex) and motivational processes (striatum). In this talk, we will discuss how the human brain learns about rewards and creates reward representations, via conditioned reinforcers, that can influence behavior. Additionally, we will highlight how cognitive strategies can effectively control neural responses to reward elicited by conditioned reinforcers (e.g., cue paired with a drug reinforcer), and its potential application of helping attenuate maladaptive decision-making (e.g., drug seeking behaviors).

Target Audience:

Practitioners and researchers who are interested in mechanisms controlling behavior; those interested in brain and behavior relations

Learning Objectives:    At the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to:
  • Recognize what fMRI findings have to offer the science of ABA.
  • Idenitfy how the human brain learns about rewards and creates reward representations, via conditioned reinforcers, and how that can influence behavior



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