Ecological Cognition and Computation / Emergent Team

The primary aim of our team is understanding of how the human brain implements reward-guided decision making, learning and plans into the future. For this, we focus particularly on the role of the frontal lobes in generating choices and making predictions based on rewards and other features of the environment. However, we are also interested in more network-based perspectives and want to understand how cortical and subcortical interactions and dynamics implement task performance and behavioural or neural state shifts. Thus, we use a variety of methods, across species as well as across spatial and temporal scales. We also test our ideas using causal manipulations such as pharmacological interventions, brain lesions and more recently transcranial ultrasound stimulation.

Some of our current interests include trying to find out how we predict future reward trends in changing environments to make better choices. We are also interested in how people manage to continuously pursue their goals and motivate their behaviour over extended time periods, sometimes to the point of failing to abandon them when necessary. In addition, our lab is working on other types of ecological cognitions such as credit assignment, emotion-decision interactions and social cognition.

Our team is heavily interdisciplinary drawing inspiration from economics, psychology, biology, computer science, engineering and beyond. We also use a diverse set of neuroscience methods to understand the underlying processes more deeply. In other words, we measure not only what regions are active (using fMRI) and the large-scale neural dynamics (using MEG and EEG), but also how populations of single neurons are involved (using electrophysical recordings) as well as the causal contributions of specific brain regions within larger networks (e.g. using Transcranial ultrasound stimulation). This is combined with generative cognitive models, purpose built to solve ecologically relevant challenges humans have evolved to overcome. Using large scale behavioural data we further link individual differences in the cognitive processes underlying our tasks to clinical dimensions and other real life individual differences.

If you are interested in any of those topics, in particular, if you want to work with us, please get in touch. We are currently hiring on many different levels (from Phd Student to Postdocs and Lab Manager) and are also open for Master student projects and internships.

Most of our work is generously supported by an ERC starting grant and the Inserm.

2022Jacqueline Scholl, Hailey A Trier, Matthew F S Rushworth, Nils KollingThe effect of apathy and compulsivity on planning and stopping in sequential decision-makingPLoS Biol
2021Nils Kolling, Marius Braunsdorf, Suhas Vijayakumar, Harold Bekkering, Ivan Toni, Rogier B MarsConstructing Others' Beliefs from One's Own Using Medial Frontal CortexJ Neurosci
2021L T Hunt, N D Daw, P Kaanders, M A MacIver, U Mugan, E Procyk, A D Redish, E Russo, J Scholl, K Stachenfeld, C R E Wilson, N KollingFormalizing planning and information search in naturalistic decision-makingNat Neurosci
2020Jan Grohn, Urs Schüffelgen, Franz-Xaver Neubert, Alessandro Bongioanni, Lennart Verhagen, Jerome Sallet, Nils Kolling, Matthew F S RushworthMultiple systems in macaques for tracking prediction errors and other types of surprisePLoS Biol
2018Nils Kolling, Jill X O'ReillyState-change decisions and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex: the importance of timeCurr Opin Behav Sci
2018Nils Kolling, Jacqueline Scholl, Adam Chekroud, Hailey A Trier, Matthew F S RushworthProspection, Perseverance, and Insight in Sequential BehaviorNeuron
2017Nils Kolling, Thomas Akam(Reinforcement?) Learning to forage optimallyCurr Opin Neurobiol
2017Jacqueline Scholl, Nils Kolling, Natalie Nelissen, Michael Browning, Matthew F S Rushworth, Catherine J HarmerBeyond negative valence: 2-week administration of a serotonergic antidepressant enhances both reward and effort learning signalsPLoS Biol
2017Jacqueline Scholl, Nils Kolling, Natalie Nelissen, Charlotte J Stagg, Catherine J Harmer, Matthew Fs RushworthExcitation and inhibition in anterior cingulate predict use of past experiencesElife
2016Rei Akaishi, Nils Kolling, Joshua W Brown, Matthew RushworthNeural Mechanisms of Credit Assignment in a Multicue EnvironmentJ Neurosci