Decision Neuroscience

Our group is interested in investigating the psychological and neural processes underlying how we make decisions and choices.

Decision Neuroscience offers a novel approach to the study of both individual and interactive decision-making by combining the methods of behavioral experiments, functional neuroimaging, and formal economic models. Use of this methodology has the potential to advance our knowledge of existing theoretical accounts of how people make decisions and judgments by informing and constraining these models based on the underlying neurobiology.

Examining sophisticated high-level behavior at a neural level, such as deciding on how much risk to take with a financial investment, choosing on a strategy when playing a competitive game with an opponent, or estimating how much you can trust another person to cooperate can provide important clues as to the fundamental mechanisms by which decision-making operates.

A further goal of our group is to use the knowledge gleaned from these studies to inform public policy debates, for example in understanding how expectations play a role in financial and health-care decisions.

Key grants and prizes

  • ERC Starting Grant award, 2013-2018
  • National Science Foundation award, 2013-2015
  • National Institute of Aging R21 award, 2007-2010
  • National Institute of Mental Health R03 award, 2006-2008
  • Province of Trentino scientific award, 2008-2012

Key publications

  • Stallen, M., Smidts, A., De Dreu C.K.W., Shalvi, S. & Sanfey A.G. (2012). The herding hormone: Oxytocin stimulates in-group conformity. Psychological Science, 23, 1288-1292
  • Chang, L.J., Smith, A., Dufwenberg, M. & Sanfey, A.G. (2011). Triangulating the neural, psychological, and economic bases of moral sentiments. Neuron, 70, 560-572.
  • Rilling, J.K & Sanfey, A.G. (2011). The neuroscience of social decision-making. Annual Reviews of Psychology, 62, 23-48.
  • Sanfey, A.G. (2007). Social decision-making: Insights from Game Theory and Neuroscience. Science 318, 598-602.
  • Sanfey, A.G., Rilling, J.K., Aronson J.A., Nystrom L.E., Cohen, J.D. (2003). The neural basis of economic decision making in the Ultimatum Game. Science, 300, 1755-1758.


Research Group
Decision Neuroscience

Principal Investigator
Prof. A.G. Sanfey

Group members

Postdoctoral Researchers
Lisa Rosenberger
Aline Dantas

PhD Students
Catalina Ratala
Sarah Vahed
Elijah Galvan
Eric Feddeck

MSc and BSc Students
Vaishnavi Arun Patil
Tim Knöchel
Huzefa Mandasaurwala

Contact information

Location 024-3610651
Postal address
Postbus 9101