Chung_Hay Luk

Office Hours:
Wed 8-9 am at Pat Brown's Grill (by GPB)
Thurs 2-3 pm at Pat Brown's Grill (by GPB)

My Research: Goal-directed and habitual control of action

Most of our actions are motivated by goals: we drive to the store to
pick up ice cream. But many of our actions are also habits, and are not
directed towards a specific goal. On the way to the store we brake at a
red light automatically with little thought to the consequences if we
did not brake.

This transistion, from a goal-directed behavior to a habit, makes sense
for actions that we regularly perform. We do not want to devote precious
cognitive resources to deciding whether we want to brake at every stop
light, but instead want to spend our time thinking about more important
things (which is why many of us experience driving as if on
'autopilot'). However, it might also play an important role in the
process of addiction. Some investigators have argued that addiction
initially involves administering a drug in a goal-directed manner (we
administer the drug because it gives us pleasure) but over time the
habit system takes over and we administer the drug as if on autopilot.
Or as a Japanese proverb states, "First the man takes a drink. Then the
drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes the man.".

My studies will examine the neuronal mechanisms that underlie how
behavior transitions from goal-directed to habitual actions.
Understanding those mechanisms may lead to treatments that can prevent people from becoming addicted to drugs of abuse.

Kirstie Whitaker

Office Hours: Thursdays 2-3 in 349 LSA


Kevin Ford

Office Hours: Tuesdays 11-12 in 349 LSA