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Cognitive mechanisms of action control and the link with monetary decision-making when gambling

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Flexible behaviour and decision-making require an executive control system that oversees subordinate processes and intervenes when the environment changes or when outcomes become suboptimal. Impairments in executive control can lead to maladaptive behaviour because irrelevant actions are not inhibited. Similarly, less supervision by the executive system can lead to impaired decision-making because suboptimal or risky choices are not suppressed. Such control impairments feature centrally across the spectrum of psychiatric disorders, including ADHD , substance abuse and pathological gambling. In the first part of my presentation, I will give a brief overview of our work on how people stop motor responses. In the second part, I will present findings suggesting that response inhibition can directly influence monetary decision-making in a gambling task, and more generally, that there is a link between different levels of executive control.

Short Bio

I received my Ph.D. from Ghent University (Belgium) in 2005, after which I obtained two research fellowships of the Research Foundation – Flanders. I was a visiting fellow at Vanderbilt University (USA) and Cardiff University before I became a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter in 2010. My research focuses mostly on executive control. I study control processes such as response inhibition, updating of working-memory contents and task rules, and control of interference. I am particularly interested in how ‘automatic’ and ‘executive’ processes jointly contribute to goal-directed behaviour, and to what extent these processes influence risk-taking and gambling.

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