Dr Ben Seymour, Computational and Biological Learning Lab, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1PZ


Center for Information and Neural Networks, National Institute for Information and Communications Technology (NICT), 1-3 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.

bjs49 AT / seymour AT

F1000 reviews (paywall)



The Habenula in aversive learning

We've just published a study showing that habenula BOLD responses correlate with aversive value in Pavlovian conditioning (modelled using reinforcement learning). We also show that these responses correlate with conditioned inhibition or excitation, which is a key functional role of pain.

Here's a link the article

Here's a link to a BBC and New York Times piece.



eBook published: 'Punishment-based Decision-Making'

Many thanks to all our contributors that put together this great Special Volume for Frontiers in Decision Neuroscience. A summary is available here.

Here's a list of the papers:

Barberini, C. L., Morrison, S. E., Saez, A., Lau, B., and Salzman, C. D. (2012). Complexity and competition in appetitive and aversive neural circuits. Front. Neurosci. 6:170. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00170

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text

Ilango, A., Shumake, J., Wetzel, W., Scheich, H., and Ohl, F. W. (2012). The role of dopamine in the context of aversive stimuli with particular reference to acoustically signaled avoidance learning. Front. Neurosci. 6:132. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00132

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text

Kobayashi, S. (2012). Organization of neural systems for aversive information processing: pain, error, and punishment.Front. Neurosci. 6:136. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00136

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text

McCutcheon, J. E., Ebner, S. R., Loriaux, A. L., and Roitman, M. F. (2012). Encoding of aversion by dopamine and the nucleus accumbens. Front. Neurosci. 6:137. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00137

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text

Porcelli, A. J., Lewis, A. H., and Delgado, M. R. (2012). Acute stress influences neural circuits of reward processing. Front. Neurosci. 6:157. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00157

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text

Rigoli, F., Pavone, E. F., and Pezzulo, G. (2012). Aversive Pavlovian responses affect human instrumental motor performance. Front. Neurosci. 6:134. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00134

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text

Singh, V., and Khan, A. (2012). Decision making in the reward and punishment variants of the iowa gambling task: evidence of “foresight” or “framing”? Front. Neurosci. 6:107. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00107

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text

Talmi, D., and Pine, A. (2012). How costs influence decision values for mixed outcomes. Front. Neurosci. 6:146. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00146

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text

Wiech, K., and Tracey, I. (2013). Pain, decisions, and actions: a motivational perspective. Front. Neurosci. 7:46. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00046

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text


Pain Conference in Dec 2014 - REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! register, please visit here.


Download poster here


New iFReC Lab

We have recently developed a new collaborative venture between iFReC - Japan's leading immunology research institute, CiNet and Cambridge University. The goal of this initiative is to explore theoretical and experimental models of the injury process - studying how the brain orchestrates integrated behavioural, immunological, and physiological responses to injury, and reciprocally how peripheral tissue damage influences brain function. This program extends our models of pain to general allostatic control mechanisms of injury.

Two new people have been recruited to develop this project. Aya Nakae (Assoc. Prof.) will develop projects integrating high resolution molecular and immunological neuroimaging, optogenetic fMRI, and neurophysiological responses in rodents. Masaki Maruyama (Assis. Prof.) will develop theoretical and computational models of allostasis, brain network function, and lead imaging studies in human models of injury.

This work is being funded by very generous support of the World Premier Institiute (JSPS) funding initiative. If you are interested in joining this project, to study either animals or humans or both), then please contact me about some of the funding mechanisms that are available.


Cover of 'Pain'

An image from Maria Joao's paper reviewing MVPA (brain decoding) and pain has made it on the front cover of Pain (April). Maria's paper probes the benefts and limitations of MVPA, arguing that it holds real promise for clinical and bioengineering applications, but that it's value for understanding the underying neurobiology of pain information processing is less straightforward. 

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