Neural-Net Modeling and Decision Making

Dr. Daniel Levine


Research Description

Professor Daniel Levine's laboratory deals with both experimental and theoretical studies of decision making, cognitive-emotional interactions, and cognitive dissonance.

One of our current projects involves simulated gambling tasks in which the participant has to decide between two alternatives that provide different probabilities of winning or losing different amounts of (virtual not actual) money. We look at the effects of various personality variables on gambling choices. We also consider the effect of how the alternatives are presented and how preferences are elicited.

Another project involves how emotion contributes to perceived value of resources. Responses of the same participants are compared on two analogous tasks, both involving an unexpected loss after a sequence of gains. Preliminary results suggest the amount of time participants are willing to invest could differ between the two tasks.

A third project involves different methods people use to reduce cognitive dissonance. Typically, cognitive dissonance studies assess the degree to which people will change relatively trivial attitudes or beliefs to be consonant with their behavior. However, when attitudes are particularly central to the person’s core identity, it is believed that they will use different methods to resolve cognitive dissonance than attitude change.

The laboratory also has a long-term goal of understanding how interactions among several brain regions (frontal lobes, amygdala, basal ganglia, etc.) contribute to emotionally-influenced decision making. To that end, the laboratory is involved in a collaborative project with a brain imaging laboratory at UT Southwest to discern relationships between brain region activations and decision style on a probability maximization task. Also, the laboratory has a long history of pioneering work in brain-based neural network modeling of cognition and behavior (see Dr. Levine ), and current modeling efforts are being integrated with the behavioral and physiological studies described above.

For information about applying to work in Dr. Dan Levine’s lab, contact him at (817-272-3598), or the laboratory manager, Ms. Rebecca Robinson at