Group leader, Research Director (DR1)
Brain and Spine Institute, University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris, France Inserm, France
Mathias Pessiglione’s team wishes to build a more comprehensive account of motivational processes, investigating not only valuation and choice but also belief attribution (how likely are the possible outcomes of our actions) and effort allocation (how much energy we would spend to attain a goal). To these aims, he combines human cognitive neuroscience, primate neurophysiology and computational modeling, which is mandatory to quantitatively link the different description levels.
We are largely unaware of our own motives. Mathias Pessiglione co-leads a team with Sébastien Bouret et and Jean Danizeau which seeks to understand how motivation works, in both the normal and pathological brain. They define motivation as a set of processes that assign values to potential situations so as to drive behavior.
Their research is closely related to the emerging field of neuroeconomics, which is focused on understanding value-based decision-making and on explaining deviations to rationality.
They wish to build a more comprehensive account of motivational processes, investigating not only valuation and choice but also belief attribution (how likely are the possible outcomes of our actions) and effort allocation (how much energy we would spend to attain a goal). More specifically, their aims are to better describe a) how the brain encodes values and beliefs, b) how values depend on parameters such as reward magnitude, probability, delay and cost, c) how values are affected by social contexts, d) how values are modified through learning and e) how values influence the brain systems (perceptual, cognitive and motor) that underpin behavioral performance.
Their long-term objective is to build a neuro-computational theory that would account for the determination of human behavior, and which would enable making sound predictions about the both clinical and economic outcomes.
Mathias Pessiglione’s team is focused on studying human motivation using principally two types of methods: neuroimaging (mainly fMRI in healthy subjects but also MEG and local field potentials in patients) and neuropsychology (testing behavioral deficits following brain damage and drug or surgical treatments). The general approach has consisted in building behavioral tests that target a specific motivational process, using functional neuroimaging to identify the underlying brain system, and then neuropsychology to assess how the targeted motivational process is affected when the identified brain system is dysfunctional in pathological conditions.
To investigate motivational processes in humans, Mathias Pessiglione’s team :
They are currently interested in several pathological conditions where motivation is dysfunctional
Their current projects can be divided on the basis of the recorded behavioral measure:
Instrumental learning: how the brain learns the values of actions and tasks from success and failure
Interactions: how the brain value and belief systems interact with each other and with others (such as the mirror neuron system or the episodic memory system)
• 2003 : Ph. D. in Cognitive Science, UPMC Paris 6, France, Léon Tremblay’s lab
• 2004-2008 : Postdoctoral fellow, Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging, London, United Kingdom, Chris D. Frith’s lab
• 2008 : appointed group leader, Brain and Spine Institute, UPMC, Paris, France
• Osiris Prize, Institut de France, Académie des Sciences, 2011
• Starting Grant, European Research Council (ERC), 2010
• Thesis Award, French Neuroscience Society, 2005
June 2016, J Neurosci
Aug 2015, Nat Neurosci
Oct 2013, PLoS Biology
Feb 2013, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
Feb 2012, PLoS Biology