Dr. Sarah Heilbronner

Medical School
Twin Cities
Project Title: 
Anatomical Connectivity of Reward Circuitry

Understanding the neurobiology of complex behaviors requires linking diverse methodologies, species, and analytical approaches. The goal of this lab is to use anatomical connectivity and related techniques to help bridge the major divides in neuroscience. Specifically, these researchers perform tract-tracing to understand the neural circuits underpinning motivation and decision-making. They are particularly interested in the medial prefrontal cortex and the posteromedial cortex as critical pieces of the motivation and decision-making circuits. Activations in different portions of these midline regions consistently track subjective value, outcomes, and need for behavioral adjustment. Intriguingly, these areas are also core pieces of the default mode network, a set of highly functionally correlated brain regions consistently deactivated during task performance in humans. A similar network is also present in other species. Thus, the default mode network represents an important circuit for motivation and decision-making that can be interrogated across multiple species.

Project Investigators

Fernando Aguilar Ortega
Dr. Sarah Heilbronner
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