The Association for Chemoreception Sciences has awarded Dr. Thorsten Kahnt with it’s Young Investigator Award for Research in Olfaction or Nasal Chemosensation. Dr. Kahnt is the newest Principal Investigator at the NIDA IRP and he will be leading the Learning and Decision-Making Unit. Congratulations, Dr. Kahnt!
Acknowledgements from Dr. Kahnt
I am very grateful to the chemosensory researchers who have welcomed me into the AChemS community. I specifically want to thank the AChemS Awards Committee for selecting me for this award, as well as my advisors and mentors — John-Dylan Haynes, Philippe Tobler, Jay Gottfried, and Geoff Schoenbaum — for providing me with invaluable training and support throughout the years. I owe my deepest gratitude to the terrific past and current members of my lab, who work incredibly hard, bring unique perspectives, and, importantly, make it a fun place to do research.
More about Dr. Kahnt’s research
Our research focuses on the neural circuits and computations that support reward-based learning and decision-making, with a particular emphasis on the role of olfaction in appetitive behaviors. We measure brain activity using high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging and use pattern-based analysis and other computational approaches to extract information from distributed activity patterns. In addition, we use transcranial magnetic stimulation to test the causal contribution of brain areas and distributed networks to neural computations and behavioral functions. Over the past several years, we have shown how the orbitofrontal cortex represents specific expectations about chemosensory rewards (i.e., food odors), how these specific expectations are learned via sensory prediction errors in the dopaminergic midbrain, and how this information is used to guide adaptive decision-making and inference. Additional work in the lab has mapped the human olfactory tract using structural imaging and is exploring mechanisms that support the state-dependent modulation of olfactory perception and decision-making.