Cendri A.C. Hutcherson


Canada Research Chair in Decision Neuroscience

Tier 2 - 2017-11-01
University of Toronto
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

416-287-7447
c.hutcherson@utoronto.ca

Research involves


Studying inovative combinations of computer modelling, brain imaging and continuous behaviour tracking to understand the dynamics of decision-making and self-control.

Research relevance


This research will offer new insights into why we fail to achieve our long-term goals, and how to develop smart technologies and strategies that can help us succeed.

The Science of Good Decision-Making


Making good decisions isn’t always easy, even when we know what the “better” choice is. From exercising and eating well to quitting smoking and saving money, good decision-making involves assigning value to the “right” choice despite competing priorities, like effort, cost, morals, stress, fatigue and deadlines.

Thanks to research, we know which areas of our brains create and process this value-based information—but we still don't fully understand why some decisions feel like an extended battle, or why we make choices we later regret.

Dr. Cendri Hutcherson, Canada Research Chair in Decision Neuroscience, is decoding how our brains tackle value-based decisions and dilemmas. By merging approaches from psychology, neuroscience, computer science and economics, she is revealing how we make complex decisions—and why we succeed or fail despite our best intentions.

Specifically, Hutcherson and her research team are using motion tracking, brain imaging and machine learning programs to build sophisticated computer models that simulate and predict human decision-making. Using these methods, they can see how—and how quickly—our brains evaluate information when making a choice. They can also see when and why we lean one way but then change our minds, and whether training can guide us to better choices.

Making good decisions isn’t always easy, even when we know what the “better” choice is. From exercising and eating well to quitting smoking and saving money, good decision-making involves assigning value to the “right” choice despite competing priorities, like effort, cost, morals, stress, fatigue and deadlines. Thanks to research, we know which areas of our brains create and process this value-based information—but we still don't fully understand why some decisions feel like an extended battle, or why we make choices we later regret. Dr. Cendri Hutcherson, Canada Research Chair in Decision Neuroscience, is decoding how our brains tackle value-based decisions and dilemmas. By merging approaches from psychology, neuroscience, computer science and economics, she is revealing how we make complex decisions—and why we succeed or fail despite our best intentions. Specifically, Hutcherson and her research team are using motion tracking, brain imaging and machine learning programs to build sophisticated computer models that simulate and predict human decision-making. Using these methods, they can see how—and how quickly—our brains evaluate information when making a choice. They can also see when and why we lean one way but then change our minds, and whether training can guide us to better choices. Ultimately, Hutcherson’s research is advancing how we study the brain. It is also informing the design of personalized smart technologies and strategies that can turn difficult choices into more effortless, healthier habits—and help us achieve our long-term goals in the process.