“how not to end up with a shopping cart full of Doritos when shopping on an empty stomach?"
Studying Neural mechanisms underlying the formation of gradual motivation
Motivation is a neuronal representation of physiological need states, like hunger, thirst and sex drive, that promote goal-directed behaviors aimed to obtain food, water and successful mating. The role of motivation is not simply to control what we dobut to determine when, how much and for how long we perform actions.
Most studies in the field focused on binary states, as if motivation is a black and white process, where, our lives happen in the gray area where motivation accumulates, to generate gradual responses. So practically, although gradients are an essential feature of motivation, very little is known about the neurobiology behind them.
Our studies aim to fill this gap, by systematically studying mechanisms underlying the formation of gradual hunger, thirst, and sex-drive. This will be achieved using state of the art technologies: automated and AI based behavior analysis, optogenetics, tissue specific genomic editing, single cell RNAseq, nano-scale resolution RNAseq within intact brain tissue, proteomics, computational analysis.
Our work will fundamentally change how we view motivation and behavior. It will impact our understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders, where there is an uncoupling of the precise need and resulting actions, as in eating disorders or addiction. Besides it relevance for human pathologies, our studies also explain the tremendous natural variation in so-called “normal” human behavior, from altering one’s metabolic set point, to dialing up and down the dynamic range of emotional responses.