Primate Neurophysiology

Our aim is to understand motivation in primates by combining behavioral studies in rhesus monkeys with neurophysiological recordings and reversible manipulations of brain activity. We also use a comparative approach to understand the relation between cognition and neurobiology across several primate species, and infer the ecological basis of the heterogeneity of these functions across primate species.


In order to better understand the neurophysiological processes underlying the effort and reward processing in primates, we are conducting several projects:

  • Complementary roles of dopamine, serotonine and noradrenaline systems in the effort/ reward trade off.

With: Pauline Bornert, Julia Mattioni, Pauline Perez

  • Complementary roles of ventromedial prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices to motivation in macaques

With: Elodie Levy, Julia Mattioni

  • Role of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in feeding ecology in primates: a comparative study across modern and fossil species

With: Margot Louail (Collaboration Cécile Garcia & Sandrine Prat, CNRS/ MNHN)


Our investigations are tightly linked with both

  • human cognitive neuroscience, as we intend to develop similar tasks, explore homologous brain regions and assess the same treatments (pharmacological medication and electrical stimulation) in monkeys and humans
  • computational modeling, as we use formal algorithms to quantify and interpret both behavioral performance and neuronal activity

We also work in tight collaboration with researchers at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle to better understand the neural basis of cognition in the light of behavioral ecology and primate evolution.