Anjali Raja Beharelle
Post-Doc, Department of Economics, University of Zurich
Talk Title: "Decisions to explore are preceded by increased baseline arousal."
Abstract: Exploration behavior can be observed across all species and is critical for survival and progress. The noradrenergic arousal system is thought to play a key role in facilitating exploratory behavior, but most evidence for this claim is derived from animal neurophysiological studies or computational models. I will discuss our recent study using a combined approach of fMRI, pupillometry, computational modeling that demonstrate that exploratory behavior in humans may be triggered by context-adaptive responses of the arousal system. Our findings highlight the link between arousal and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) function and its importance in initiating exploration. Finally, I will show that increased sensitivity of both arousal and neural activity during exploratory states may improve behavioral flexibility and performance.