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John O'Doherty

Director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center

John O'Doherty, Caltech professor of psychology, studies how the brain learns to predict the consequences—whether reward or punishment—of possible actions in order to make good decisions, a complex computational problem that has come to be solved by the brain over the course of evolution. In his research, O'Doherty combines computational models with data from brain images taken of human volunteers while they actively solve simple learning and decision problems. O'Doherty and his team believe that a deeper understanding of how the brain learns and makes decisions will not only inspire new theories of decision making but will also contribute to the development of artificial intelligence.

O'Doherty obtained a DPhil in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, prior to coming to Caltech in 2004. He received a Searle Scholarship in 2006, was elected a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science in 2009, and is listed by the Institute for Scientific Information as a “highly cited researcher” in the domain of neuroscience and behavior, for being in the top 1 percent for citations among researchers in the field worldwide.