Psychiatry Decision-Making & Reward Research | NYU Langone Health

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Department of Psychiatry Research Psychiatry Decision-Making & Reward Research

Psychiatry Decision-Making & Reward Research

Scientists in NYU Langone’s Department of Psychiatry conduct groundbreaking decision-making and reward research. An interdisciplinary team, led by Paul W. Glimcher, PhD, uses different technologies to study decision-making in a range of environments.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, economists, and basic neuroscientists collaborate in the Glimcher Lab to assess decision-making, impulsivity, and the performance of new behavioral tasks in patients with opioid addiction.

They also study behavior in healthy populations using questionnaires, clinical survey work, and competitive and strategic economic games. Studying groups of people allows the team to understand how decision-making evolves in social settings.

The researchers use functional MRI (fMRI) and PET scans in humans to evaluate brain function and study how networks of neurons aggregate in decision-making. We collaborate with researchers at NYU Neuroscience to assess these same measures in animal models.

Another component of our work is digital health research. We use mobile applications to measure clinical and real-world behaviors and decision-making in healthy populations and those with addiction.

Clinical Trials

Much of our clinical research is focused on the development of tools to help physicians monitor the effectiveness of treatment for opioid dependence, contend with relapse, and evaluate patients’ clinical status.

Neuroeconomic Investigation of Craving in Opioid Addiction

We are evaluating brain function in patients at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue using fMRI brain scans at the beginning and end of six months of treatment for opioid use disorder. Researchers are also investigating patients’ impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors throughout the study period. Our goals are to determine how treatment improves these behaviors, and to assess changes in neurobiology. View additional clinical trial details.

Basic and Translational Research

We conduct both basic and translational research. For example, our research team has developed tools in the laboratory for measuring risk attitude and impulsivity and used fMRI in animal models to evaluate the neurobiological basis of these behaviors. Our scientists have also conducted landmark studies using fMRI to elucidate the role of dopamine in addiction and decision-making.

Ongoing projects include the following.

Neural Mechanisms of Cost and Benefit Integration During Decision-Making

Scientists are conducting a series of fMRI assessments in humans as well as single-unit recording and muscimol inactivation experiments in monkeys to evaluate the neural activity involved in weighing costs and benefits during decision-making. The goal is to test whether separate anterior areas of the brain maintain different representations of costs and benefits.

Adaptation in Decision Circuits: Temporal History and the Efficiency of Choice

Researchers are using electrophysiological recording, computational modeling, and choice behavior experiments in humans and animals to assess how the brain represents subjective value and how these representations adapt over time. This study may one day have implications in depression and bipolar disorder, illnesses that are characterized by periods of low- and high-reward states.

Current Grants

Our research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Computational Neuroeconomic Models of Addiction: Quantifying Progression and Treatment in Opioid Use Disorder; 5R01DA043676-02

Neural Mechanisms of Cost and Benefit Integration During Decision-Making; 5R01DA038063-05

National Institute of Mental Health

Adaptation in Decision Circuits: Temporal History and the Efficiency of Choice; R01MH104251

Research Training

The Glimcher Lab offers research training to graduate and postgraduate students from around the world and is open to fellows who are pursuing an MD/PhD at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. Dr. Glimcher has served as faculty on National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute of Mental Health training grants.

Research Faculty

Our faculty are experts in decision-making and reward research.

Paul W. Glimcher, PhD
Kenway Louie, MD, PHD
Stephen Ross, MD
John Rotrosen, MD

Contact Us

For more information about our research, please contact Ruby Chen, assistant and lab manager, at

Recent Publications

Faculty in the decision-making and reward research program publish frequently in peer-reviewed journals. Here is a selection of our recent publications.

Featured Publications

Clinical and psychosocial outcomes by sex among individuals prescribed buprenorphine-naloxone (BUP-NX) or extended-release naltrexone (XR-NTX) for opioid use disorder

Paschen-Wolff, Margaret; Greenfield, Shelly F; Kathryn McHugh, R; Burlew, Kathleen; Pavlicova, Martina; Choo, Tse-Hwei; Barbosa-Leiker, Celestina; Ruglass, Lesia M; Mennenga, Sarah; Rotrosen, John; Nunes, Edward V; Campbell, Aimee N C

American journal on addictions. 2023 Nov ; 32:584-592

Exploring the Potential Utility of Psychedelic Therapy for Patients With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Gold, Noah D; Mallard, Austin J; Hermann, Jacob C; Zeifman, Richard J; Pagni, Broc A; Bogenschutz, Michael P; Ross, Stephen

Journal of palliative medicine. 2023 Oct ; 26:1408-1418

Implementation of substance use screening in rural federally-qualified health center clinics identified high rates of unhealthy alcohol and cannabis use among adult primary care patients

McNeely, Jennifer; McLeman, Bethany; Gardner, Trip; Nesin, Noah; Amarendran, Vijay; Farkas, Sarah; Wahle, Aimee; Pitts, Seth; Kline, Margaret; King, Jacquie; Rosa, Carmen; Marsch, Lisa; Rotrosen, John; Hamilton, Leah

Addiction science & clinical practice. 2023 Sep 20; 18:56

Single-Dose Psilocybin Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Raison, Charles L; Sanacora, Gerard; Woolley, Joshua; Heinzerling, Keith; Dunlop, Boadie W; Brown, Randall T; Kakar, Rishi; Hassman, Michael; Trivedi, Rupal P; Robison, Reid; Gukasyan, Natalie; Nayak, Sandeep M; Hu, Xiaojue; O'Donnell, Kelley C; Kelmendi, Benjamin; Sloshower, Jordan; Penn, Andrew D; Bradley, Ellen; Kelly, Daniel F; Mletzko, Tanja; Nicholas, Christopher R; Hutson, Paul R; Tarpley, Gary; Utzinger, Malynn; Lenoch, Kelsey; Warchol, Kasia; Gapasin, Theraysa; Davis, Mike C; Nelson-Douthit, Courtney; Wilson, Steffanie; Brown, Carrie; Linton, William; Ross, Stephen; Griffiths, Roland R

JAMA. 2023 Sep 05; 330:843-853

Implementing Programs to Initiate Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in High-Need, Low-Resource Emergency Departments: A Nonrandomized Controlled Trial

McCormack, Ryan P; Rotrosen, John; Gauthier, Phoebe; D'Onofrio, Gail; Fiellin, David A; Marsch, Lisa A; Novo, Patricia; Liu, David; Edelman, E Jennifer; Farkas, Sarah; Matthews, Abigail G; Mulatya, Caroline; Salazar, Dagmar; Wolff, Jeremy; Knight, Randolph; Goodman, William; Williams, Joseph; Hawk, Kathryn

Annals of emergency medicine. 2023 Sep ; 82:272-287

Co-use of MDMA with psilocybin/LSD may buffer against challenging experiences and enhance positive experiences

Zeifman, Richard J; Kettner, Hannes; Pagni, Broc A; Mallard, Austin; Roberts, Daniel E; Erritzoe, David; Ross, Stephen; Carhart-Harris, Robin L

Scientific reports. 2023 Aug 22; 13:13645

Risks of returning to opioid use at treatment entry and early in opioid use disorder treatment: Role of non-opioid substances

Castillo, Felipe; Hu, Mei-Chen; Liu, Ying; Balise, Raymond R; Weiss, Roger D; Rotrosen, John; Nunes, Edward V; Saxon, Andrew J; Feaster, Daniel J; Luo, Sean X

Drug & alcohol dependence. 2023 Aug 09; 251:110926

Are psychedelic medicines the reset for chronic pain? Preliminary findings and research needs

Zia, Farah Z; Baumann, Michael H; Belouin, Sean J; Dworkin, Robert H; Ghauri, Majid H; Hendricks, Peter S; Henningfield, Jack E; Lanier, Ryan K; Ross, Stephen; Berger, Ann

Neuropharmacology. 2023 Aug 01; 233:109528