POSTPONED: CHBH Seminar Series: Dr Nils Kolling

Thursday 27 January 2022 (13:00-14:00)

Please note that this event is postponed and will not take place on the above/below date. Please keep an eye out for the rescheduled date!

These seminars are free to attend and are open to all, both within and outside the University. Please register your interest to attend using the link above.

We are delighted to announce that the Centre for Human Brain Health (CHBH) will welcome Dr Nils Kolling, Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, to present an online CHBH Seminar (via Zoom, with potential for a small physical audience), taking place on Thursday 27th January, 13:00-14:00 GMT.

To arrange a 1:1 meeting or would with Dr Kolling, please contact us.

If you wish to attend, you can register your interest using the link above.

Planning, motivation and decision making during reward-guided choice and learning

Deciding between apples and oranges has been an age-old question not just for hungry shoppers but within the field of decision-making research. However, very rarely have researchers considered the possibility to reject either and move on to the next shelf. I have previously argued that such a sequential decision making framework is not just essential for understanding foraging in animals in the wild, but also ecological, real life, behaviour in humans1,2. While it is intuitive that real life decision strategies require temporally extended coherent behaviours2 and rely on prospection, maintained motivation and sequential adaptation, those cognitive and neural processes remain poorly understand. In the first part of my talk I will present our recent cognitive model for sequential search decisions, its underlying neural dynamics3. In the second part I will talk about how more complex sequential behaviours could be supported by learning. Specifically, I will discuss multiple representations of changing reward environments in the anterior cingulate cortex4,5 and how the changeability of the reward environment can affect how rare reward experiences are processed in orbitofrontal cortex.


  1. Kolling N, Akam T. (Reinforcement?) Learning to forage optimally. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2017;46:162-169. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2017.08.008
  2. Kolling N, O’Reilly JX. State-change decisions and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex: the importance of time. Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2018;22:152-160. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2018.06.017
  3. Kolling N, Scholl J, Chekroud A, Trier HA, Rushworth MFS. Prospection, Perseverance, and Insight in Sequential Behavior. Neuron. 2018;99(5):1069-1082.e7. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2018.08.018
  4. Meder D, Kolling N, Verhagen L, et al. Simultaneous representation of a spectrum of dynamically changing value estimates during decision making. Nat Commun. 2017;8(1):1-11. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-02169-w
  5. Wittmann MK, Kolling N, Akaishi R, et al. Predictive decision making driven by multiple time-linked reward representations in the anterior cingulate cortex. Nat Commun. 2016;7:12327. doi:10.1038/ncomms12327

Speaker Biography

Nils Kolling currently is a BBSRC Research Fellow at Oxford University. Previous to that he was a Junior Research Fellow there and before that a Wellcome Trust funded graduate student. In other words, he has been in Oxford for a very long time. During that time he primarily worked on ecological perspective to decision making and learning in humans and non-human primates. He used a variety of methods such as fMRI, EEG, MEG, MRS, lesions, neurostimulation and drug manipulations to understand the neural mechanisms of reward learning, decision making and motivation.

These seminars are free to attend and are open to all, both within and outside the University. Please register your interest to attend using the link above.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities