Shannon L. Gourley

Assistant Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry
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Dr. Gourley’s research team focuses on the brain circuits and molecules that coordinate reward-related decision making. Within social contexts, Dr. Gourley’s group aims to understand: 1) how social context during adolescence sculpts prefrontal cortical development and determines long-behavioral outcomes. These outcomes include, for example, the capacity for complex decision-making, reward valuation, and inhibitory control in adulthood. 2) Secondly, the group aims to understand how social experiences motivate future choices. Social experiences impact day-to-day decisions regarding where we live, what we eat, and how we work. We use a task in model organisms in which social experiences endow external rewards with added value, and thus motivate responding for that reward. We aim to understand brain circuits and mechanistic factors involved in this complex process.