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Why do things feel effortful?


Why do we get fatigued? 

Why can motivation become impaired through ageing and in brain disorders?


Our group examines the role of fronto-striatal systems in the brain, their computations and the contributions of different brain chemicals underlying healthy and disrupted motivation.


Why is social cognition demanding?

When do we decide to be altruistic and help others out?

How do we predict how motivated others are?

Our research dissects the contributions of different prefrontal regions, their computations and pharmacological basis of the processes that underlie 'social motivation'.

May 2024

Control Processes Conference 2024 in Birmingham!

Matt was part of the organising committee from the CHBH for Control Processes 2024, which took place at the Edgbaston Park Hotel, University of Birmingham, from May 10th to 12th.

The conference featured brilliant talks and discussions by noted researchers in the field.


April 2024

A new member joins the lab!

Meijia is a postdoctoral fellow at the MSN lab. 

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February 2024

Emma presents a poster at a conference in Janelia!

Emma presents her work on how "Explore/exploit trade-off drives variation in patch foraging decisions" at the 'Bridging Diverse Perspectives on the Mechanistic Basis of Foraging' conference in Janelia.

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November 2023

A new member joins the lab!

Kübra is a research associate jointly working with Dr. Matthew Apps and Dr. Lei Zhang. 


October 2023

The Lab attends a conference in Lyon!

Members of the lab attended the International conference on Motivational and Cognitive Control (MCC 2023) in Lyon, France. Dr. Matthew Apps gave a talk on the "Computational mechanisms of switching effort from cost to benefit in the medial frontal cortex." Other members of the lab presented posters on their current studies.


September 2023

Lab away day!

Members of the MSN lab and the Social Decision Neuroscience lab travelled to Corpus Christi College, Oxford for a joint lab retreat. The activity of the day was called 'Empathy for Pain: Designing somebody else's next project', for which lab members were paired to design each other's next experiment. This was followed by a fun-filled science quiz.


August 2023

Two new members join the lab!

Dr. Selma Lugtmeijer is a postdoctoral fellow and Nikita Mehta is a research assistant at the MSN lab.


July 2023

MSN lab receives the BBSRC Pioneer Award!

The lab was awarded a BBSRC Pioneer Award of £200k to examine the mechanisms underlying fatigue using spinal fMRI.


May 2023

Virtual seminar on neural and theoretical mechanisms of foraging.

Matt and Aaron Bornstein deliver a virtual seminar on foraging behaviour as part of the Future of Foraging Seminar Series.  To see the talk, click here

March 2023

Matt awarded Wellcome Discovery Award alongside researchers from Oxford University!

In collaboration with Professors Masud Husain, Catherine Harmer and Simon Little (University of Oxford), Matt was awarded the 7 year Wellcome Discovery Award, to further research into brain mechanisms underlying motivation and apathy. 

February 2023

Matt receives an ERC grant!

Matt was awarded 5-year Є2m European Research Council Consolidator grant to examine the psychological, computational and neural mechanisms of the effort paradox

December 2022

Matt receives a Jacob Foundations Fellowship!

Matt awarded a Jacobs Foundation Fellowship to examine how the ability to work towards deadlines develops in children and adolescents

October 2022

Two new members join the lab!

Zhilin Su and Jamie Talbot started their PhDs at MSN lab. Welcome!

September 2022

Matt and Tanja received the 2022 Society for Neuroeconomics paper award 

The Society for Neuroeconomics awarded the authors for their paper “Neural and computational mechanisms of momentary fatigue and persistence in effort-based choice'”.

August 2022

Matt, together with Patricia Lockwood and Steve Chang, received the 2022 SANS Innovation Award

The Social and Affective Neuroscience Society (SANS) awarded the authors for their innovative paper “Is There a ‘Social’ Brain? Implementations and Algorithms”.


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