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Dr Bolton Chau
Open Platform for University Scholars

Dr Bolton CHAU

Associate Professor

BSc (HKU), MPhil (HKU), DPhil (Oxford)


Dr Chau obtained his DPhil degree from University of Oxford and his MPhil and BSc degrees from The University of Hong Kong. His key research interests are in the neuroscience of reward-guided decision making and learning. In our modern lives, it is very common that we make decisions between a large number of options. However, our knowledge about neural mechanisms of decision making is mainly based on experiments that involve a few options. Hence, recently his research focuses on investigating whether these mechanisms are generalizable to decisions with many options.  Key research questions involve how do people sample information from large sets of options? How do people make use of information to guide their decision making?

Dr Chau generally conducts his research using a combination of brain imaging, brain stimulation, eye tracking and computational modelling techniques. His research findings mainly show that (1) in two-option decisions, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex is important for reinforcement learning and guiding optimal decisions and; (2) in three-option decisions, people make suboptimal decisions and the decision signal in ventromedial prefrontal cortex is attenuated; (3) when there are plenty options, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is involved in filtering out choice-irrelevant information. These findings were published in journals such as Nature Neuroscience and Neuron.

Education and Academic Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Hong Kong
  • Master of Philosophy, The University of Hong Kong
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford

Research Interests

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Decision making
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Computational modelling

Research Output

  • Fouragnan E*, Chau BK*, Folloni D*, Kolling N, Klein-Flügge M, Verhagen L, Tankelevitch L, Papageorgiou G, Sallet J, Rushworth MF. (2019). The macaque anterior cingulate cortex translates counterfactual choice value into actual behavioral change. Nature Neuroscience, 22, 797-808
  • Chau BK, Jarvis H, Law C, Chong TT. (2018). Dopamine and reward – A view from the prefrontal cortex. Behavioural Pharmacology, 29, 569-583.
  • Chau BK*, Keuper K*, Lo M, Chan CC, So KF, Lee, CF, Lee TM. (2018). Meditation-induced neuroplastic changes of the prefrontal network are associated with reduced valence perception in older people. Brain and Neuroscience Advances, 2, 1-12.
  • Noonan MP, Chau BK, Rushworth MF, Fellows K. (2017). Contrasting effects of medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex lesions on credit assignment and decision making in humans. Journal of Neuroscience, 37, 7023-35.
  • Papageorgiou GK, Sallet J, Wittmann MK, Chau BK, Schuffelgen U, Buckley MJ, & Rushworth MF. (2017). Inverted activity patterns in ventromedial prefrontal cortex during value-guided decision-making in a less-is-more task. Nature Communications, 8, 1886.
  • Zou Z, Chau BK, Ting KH, Chan CC. (2017). Aging Effect on Audiovisual Integrative Processing in Spatial Discrimination Task. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9, 374.
  • Chau BK, Sallet J, Papageorgios GK, Noonan MP, Bell AH, Walton ME, Rushworth MF. (2015). Contrasting roles for orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala in credit assignment and learning in macaques. Neuron, 87, 1106-1118.
  • Walton ME, Chau BK, Kennerley SW. (2015). Prioritising the relevant information for learning and decision making within orbital and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 1, 78-85.
  • Rushworth MF, Chau BK, Schuffelgen U, Neubert FX, Kolling N. (2014). Choice values: the frontal cortex and decision making. In: The Cognitive Neurosciences, 5th edition (Gazzaniga, M.S., ed), MIT Press.
  • Chau BK, Kolling N, Hunt LT, Walton ME, Rushworth MF. (2014). A neural mechanism underlying failure of optimal choice with multiple alternatives. Nature Neuroscience, 17, 463-70.

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