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What Guides Habitual Seeking Behavior Explained
A new role of the ventral striatum explains habitual seeking behavior Researchers have been investigating how the brain controls habitual seeking behaviors such as addiction. A recent study by Professor Sue-Hyun Lee from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering revealed that a long-term value memory maintained in the ventral striatum in the brain is a neural basis of our habitual seeking behavior. This research was conducted in collaboration with the research team lead by Professor Hyoung F. Kim from Seoul National University. Given that addictive behavior is deemed a habitual one, this research provides new insights for developing therapeutic interventions for addiction. Habitual seeking behavior involves strong stimulus responses, mostly rapid and automatic ones. The ventral striatum in the brain has been thought to be important for value learning and addictive behaviors. However, it was unclear if the ventral striatum processes and retains long-term memories that guide habitual seeking. Professor Lee’s team reported a new role of the human ventral striatum where long-term memory of high-valued objects are retained as a single representation and may be used to evaluate visual stimuli automatically to guide habitual behavior. “Our findings propose a role of the ventral striatum as a director that guides habitual behavior with the script of value information written in the past,” said Professor Lee. The research team investigated whether learned values were retained in the ventral striatum while the subjects passively viewed previously learned objects in the absence of any immediate outcome. Neural responses in the ventral striatum during the incidental perception of learned objects were examined using fMRI and single-unit recording. The study found significant value discrimination responses in the ventral striatum after learning and a retention period of several days. Moreover, the similarity of neural representations for good objects increased after learning, an outcome positively correlated with the habitual seeking response for good objects. “These findings suggest that the ventral striatum plays a role in automatic evaluations of objects based on the neural representation of positive values retained since learning, to guide habitual seeking behaviors,” explained Professor Lee. “We will fully investigate the function of different parts of the entire basal ganglia including the ventral striatum. We also expect that this understanding may lead to the development of better treatment for mental illnesses related to habitual behaviors or addiction problems.” This study, supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea, was reported at Nature Communications (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22335-5.) -ProfileProfessor Sue-Hyun LeeDepartment of Bio and Brain EngineeringMemory and Cognition Laboratoryhttp://memory.kaist.ac.kr/lecture KAIST
Professor Sue-Hyun Lee Listed Among WEF 2020 Young Scientists
Professor Sue-Hyun Lee from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering joined the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Young Scientists Community on May 26. The class of 2020 comprises 25 leading researchers from 14 countries across the world who are at the forefront of scientific problem-solving and social change. Professor Lee was the only Korean on this year’s roster. The WEF created the Young Scientists Community in 2008 to engage leaders from the public and private sectors with science and the role it plays in society. The WEF selects rising-star academics, 40 and under, from various fields every year, and helps them become stronger ambassadors for science, especially in tackling pressing global challenges including cybersecurity, climate change, poverty, and pandemics. Professor Lee is researching how memories are encoded, recalled, and updated, and how emotional processes affect human memory, in order to ultimately direct the development of therapeutic methods to treat mental disorders. She has made significant contributions to resolving ongoing debates over the maintenance and changes of memory traces in the brain. In recognition of her research excellence, leadership, and commitment to serving society, the President and the Dean of the College of Engineering at KAIST nominated Professor Lee to the WEF’s Class of 2020 Young Scientists Selection Committee. The Committee also acknowledged Professor Lee’s achievements and potential for expanding the boundaries of knowledge and practical applications of science, and accepted her into the Community. During her three-year membership in the Community, Professor Lee will be committed to participating in WEF-initiated activities and events related to promising therapeutic interventions for mental disorders and future directions of artificial intelligence. Seven of this year’s WEF Young Scientists are from Asia, including Professor Lee, while eight are based in Europe. Six study in the Americas, two work in South Africa, and the remaining two in the Middle East. Fourteen, more than half, of the newly announced 25 Young Scientists are women. (END)
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