Antoine Bechara

Professor of Psychology

Contact Information
E-mail: bechara@usc.edu
Phone: (213) 740-1601
Office: HNB B26
Office Hours: Tue, Thur : 9-10AM


Description of Research

Detailed Statement of Research Interests
My research focuses on understanding the neural processes underlying how we make decisions and choices. Researchers in the field of human decision-making have used a variety of methods, including functional neuroimaging, and work with brain damaged patients. Among the influential work using the brain lesion method has been the work I did with Antonio and Hanna Damasio, and the rest of the group, at the University of Iowa. This research has focused on the decision-making capabilities of patients who have suffered injury to the ventromedial sector of their prefrontal cortex. At the time, although the decision-making deficit seen in these patients was so obvious in their real life, there was no laboratory probe to detect and measure this decision-making impairment. My development of what became known as the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) has enabled investigators, for the first time, to detect these patients' elusive impairment in the laboratory, measure it, and investigate its possible causes. This work has drawn attention to the potential value in studying the neural basis of decision-making, and in bringing this question to the laboratory through the use of structured decision-making tasks involving choices that mimic real-life situations, in the way they factor uncertainty, reward, and punishment. My research still focuses on understanding the anatomical, physiological, and pharmacological mechanisms of decision-making. However, my research also aims at integrating decision neuroscience with research in two key areas: one is mental health, and specifically substance addiction, and smoking; the other seeks to strengthen and expand interdisciplinary research between the fields of neuroscience, management, marketing, and economics, and contribute to the newly emerging fields of decision neuroscience and neuroeconomics.

  • Department of Psychology
  • University of Southern California
  • SGM 501
  • 3620 South McClintock Ave.
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061
  • Phone: (213) 740 - 2203