Tianming Yang, Ph.D. (ION-CAS)
Investigator and Laboratory Head
Laboratory of Neural Mechanisms of Decision Making and Cognition
Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology
Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences
“Attentional Modulation of Value Encoding in the Orbitofrontal Cortex”
The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) plays an important role in value-based learning and decision making. Understanding the attentional modulation of the representation of value in the OFC provides us key information on its functional roles. We examined how top-down and bottom-up attention modulates the value encoding in the OFC. Two macaque monkeys were trained to detect a luminance change at a cued location between a pair of visual stimuli, which were over-trained pictures associated with different amount of juice rewards and, thus, different salience. While the monkeys’ behavior and the DLPFC neuronal activities indicated that the monkeys actively directed their attention toward the cued location during the task, the OFC neurons’ value encoding, however, was dominated by the bottom-up attention based on pictures’ salience and only reflected the top-down attention weakly. These results showed a disassociation between the top-down and bottom-up attention signals in the OFC, indicating a stable representation of value in the OFC that was only weakly modulated by the top-down attention.
Dr. Tianming Yang obtained his B.S. degree in the Department of Biochemistry at Fudan University. He received his Ph. D. in neuroscience at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, investigating the neural plasticity in visual cortices under the advice of Dr. John Maunsell. He did his postdoctoral research with Dr. Michael Shadlen then at the University of Washington, Seattle, studying the neural mechanism of decision making. In 2008, Dr. Yang became a staff scientist in the Section on Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the National Institute of Mental Health, USA, working on the reward circuitry in the brain. Since 2013, Dr. Yang works at the Institute of Neuroscience as Investigator and Head of the Laboratory of Neural Mechanisms of Decision Making and Cognition.