Assistant Professor, Rutgers University at Newark
Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
B.S., Cornell University
etricomi (at) psychology.rutgers.edu
Broadly speaking, my research focuses on the influences of affective information on cognitive processing in the brain. The affective qualities of our experience not only produce subjective feelings that may be positive or negative, but also provide information that allows us to shape future behavior. To understand how the consequences of ones decisions can be used to determine future actions, I use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the role of the brains reward processing system in feedback-based learning. My work examines contextual influences on learning and decision making, and the neural systems that underlie these processes. For example, my research indicates that the sensitivity of the striatum, a region in the basal ganglia, to reward-related information depends on factors such as whether one feels a sense of agency in producing an outcome or whether a habit has been formed after extensive experience. This research has important implications for understanding how cognitive processes such as learning and decision making are carried out in the normal brain, as well as for understanding how impairments of the brains reward processing system may give rise to disorders such as addiction and other compulsive behaviors.