Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Reward Evaluation by Subcortical Brain Circuits

12:00 PM to 1:30 PM

Weiser Hall
10th Floor and
via livestream

A reception with light refreshments will take place after the talk for in-person attendees.

This talk is the 2023 Elliot S. Valenstein Distinguished Lecture, In memory of Elliot S. Valenstein (1923-2023), Professor Emeritus of Psychology, whose irreplaceable contributions to the Biopsychology Department included 24 years of teaching and mentoring and over a decade of service as area chair. 

Talk summary: The experience of a reward, such as the ingestion of food, is accompanied by dynamic patterns of neuronal activity across many brain regions. For example, reward ingestion is often accompanied by brief increases in spike activity by dopamine neurons, amygdala neurons, and neurons in the basal ganglia. I will discuss studies that illustrate different approaches to understanding the behavioral functions of this reward-elicited activity, with a focus on reward signals that promote reward-seeking behavior.

Patricia Janak, Ph.D.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences; Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Patricia Janak received a BA in psychology and biology from Rutgers College and her Ph.D in biological psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. After postdoctoral positions at the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Patricia joined the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco, as an Assistant Professor in 1999. She was appointed as Associate Professor in 2006, and named the Howard J. Weinberger Endowed Chair in Addiction Research at UCSF in 2011. In 2014, Patricia joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University where she is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor with joint appointments in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and in the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.