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Primate Neurophysiology

Sebastien Bouret

Working with monkeys it enables us to use invasive approaches and manipulate brain activity. But the comparative approach across species also provides a valuable insight into the proximate and ultimate causes of motivation in primates.

To investigate motivational processes in monkeys, we

  • develop computerized behavioral tasks that target the process of interest.
  • measure behavioral and autonomic responses to identify motivational states and subjective values.
  • use multi-site single unit recordings to measure the activity of individual neurons.
  • Manipulate brain activity using pharmacology and DREADDs (soon…)

 We are currently interested in several brain systems including catacholaminergic neuromodulators (noradrenaline and dopamine) and the ventral prefrontal cortex.

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


Our current projects can be divided on the basis of functions of interest:

1- Action selection: (C. Jahn, L. Roumazeilles)

  • How does contextual information influence our choices ?
  •  What is the dynamic relation between evaluation and choice processes?
  •  How did ecological constraints shape the primate ‘Foraging Brain’ ?

2- Effort allocation: Is there a Brain Effort System?  (N. Borderies, A. Dureux)

  • How do we balance efforts and rewards?
  • How do we mobilize energy for facing challenges?
  • What is the relation between effort and autonomic arousal?