Every action we make relies on us appropriately assigning value to different options. Such value signals have been found in the brain and are the key drivers of every single decision, from staying at DarBar for one last drink, to pursuing a PhD. However, neurons encode values subjectively, often in a manner that is not obviously related to the objective qualities of those rewards; a small, simple diamond may be worth as much as a house.
In this talk, I will explain how this has hindered our ability to decode these fundamental neuronal signals and present an auction task for the measurement of a monkey’s subjective values for rewards within individual decisions. By allowing for the association of behaviour and neuronal signals with unprecedented temporal precision, we may gain greater insight into the neuronal ‘black box’ which underlies the choices we make in everyday life.