Grants awarded

Neural mechanisms supporting environment evaluation in humans and their breakdown in clinical disorders


Dr Neil Garrett

University of Oxford

United Kingdom

We make choices by evaluating how rewarding our environment is. This needs to be a continual process of reassessment as environments constantly change.

I plan to use mathematical models and brain imaging to characterise how the human brain updates its assessment of the rewards that can be found in different environments. I will examine whether healthy people are reluctant to adjust beliefs when their environment is deteriorating compared with when it is improving. I will then compare people with anxiety with healthy people to see if anxiety makes people more responsive to information that leads to a pessimistic perception of the environment as this is a common feature of clinical disorders such as depression.