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Sven Bestmann

Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders Human Decision making and action Lab

Without actions, our thoughts, ideas, intentions, and feeling remain silent. In our lab, we study the processes through which our brain transforms decisions into actions. Many of our actions are guided by decision variables such as value, time, uncertainty or emotion, yet it remains poorly understood how these influence the action representations that control which decision is implemented and executed. We address this issue using different methods with complementary strengths, including computational modelling1,6, high SNR magnetoencephalography (MEG) 5, electrophysiology (TMS, cortical excitability measures) 6, non-invasive brain stimulation (tDCS, TMS) 2,6,8, and pharmacological manipulations4,7.

The specific projects can be adapted to suit individual student requirements wherever possible. Interested students are encouraged to approach us for further discussion.

Suggested PROJECTS

1) Laminar and subcortical specificity of beta and gamma oscillations during action selection.

This project will use high SNR MEG with individual head-casts. Student will learn how to analyse data with a specific question regarding action selection and oscillations in mind, and participate in MEG recordings where feasible. 

2) Using computational neurostimulation to test for the causal functional architecture of perceptual decision making

This project will use computational models to generate neural and behavioural predictions about the impact of tDCS on cortical regions implied in perceptual decision making


[1] Klein-Flügge MC, Kennerley SW, Saraiva AC, Penny WD, Bestmann S (2015) Behavioral modeling of human choices reveals dissociable effects of physical effort and temporal delay on reward devaluation. PLoS Comput Biol. 27;11(3):e1004116.

[2] Bonaiuto J, Bestmann S (in press) Understanding the nonlinear physiological and behavioral effects of tdcs through computational neurostimulation. Prog Brain Res

[3] Binetti N, Hagura N, Fadipe C, Tomassini A, Walsh V, Bestmann S (2015) Binding space and time through action. Proc Biol Sci. 22;282(1805)

[4] Bestmann S, Ruge D, Rothwell JC, Galea J (2015). The role of dopamine in motor flexibility. J Cogn Neurosci

[5] Troebinger L, Lopez JD, Lutti A, Bestmann S, Barnes G. Discrimination of cortical laminae using MEG. Neuroimage (in press)

[6] Klein-Flugge M, Bestmann S. Time-dependent changes in human cortico-spinal excitability reveal value-based competition for action during decision processing. J Neurosci 32:8373-82

[7] Galea J*, Bestmann S*, Beigi M, Jahanshahi M, Rothwell JC. Action reprogramming in Parkinson's disease: response to prediction error is modulated by levels of dopamine. J Neurosci 32:542-550

[8] Bestmann S, de Berker AO, Bonaiuto J (2015) Understanding the behavioural consequences of noninvasive brain stimulation. Trends Cogn Sci. 19(1):13-20.


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