Casas Laboratory

Faculty Director

About Us

The Casas lab uses a blend of decision neuroscience, behavioral economics, and social psychology – approaches which when jointly brought to bear on complex social phenomena, provide tractable and clear answers about how humans make decisions about, among, and for one another.

The lab’s experiments have focused on inter-related questions including: How do two people trust each other? How do individuals balance their own interests with the interests of others? How do risk preferences change across the lifespan and under social influence? How does social dominance influence the way we learn from others?

Casas also pursues understanding of neural computations underlying decision-making abnormalities of psychopathology. Psychiatric illnesses, from substance abuse to borderline personality disorder, include primary features that can be studied as impaired decision-making in social and non-social contexts. In current and planned work, my lab leverages our normative work in these areas to investigate neural substrates that give rise to aberrant behavior.

Current Research Projects

R01DA051573, NIH/NIDA, 04/01/21 – 03/31/26, Social influence on choices in adolescent substance use. This project will whether substance use, and changes in substance use, are related to individual differences in two neurocomputational mechanisms by which social information influences risky decision- making.

R01MH122948, NIH/NIMH, 04/08/20 - 02/28/25, Direct sub-second measurement of neuromodulator signaling during risky decision-making. This award combines electrochemistry and machine learning methods to directly measure serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in humans on a sub-second basis to investigate the neurocomputational role of these neurotransmitters in risky choice.

R01DA036017, NIH/NIDA, 09/15/13 - 06/30/23, Neurobehavioral determinants of health risk behaviors: From adolescence to young adulthood. This project uses a neuroeconomic approach to study developmental trajectories of risky decision-making in a longitudinal sample transitioning from adolescence into young adulthood.

R01MH115221, NIH/NIMH, 02/01/18 - 12/31/23, Neurobehavioral mechanisms of social dysfunction in Borderline Personality Disorder. This project uses computational models of social behavior and functional magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate interpersonal dysfunction in Borderline Personality Disorder.

Merit D2354R, VA/RR&D, 07/01/18 - 06/30/23, Efficacy and neural mediators of response to TMT for PTSD, The study investigates neural mechanisms of treatment using functional magnetic resonance imaging and probes of affective and social behavior.

Select Publications and Presentations

  • Chung D, Orloff MA, Lauharatanahirun N, Chiu PH, King-Casas B. (2020). Valuation of peers' safe choices is associated with substance-naïveté in adolescents. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 117(50):31729-31737.
  • McCurry KL, Frueh BC, Chiu PH, King-Casas B. (2020). Opponent effects of hyperarousal and re-experiencing on affective habituation in posttraumatic stress disorder. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging 5(2):203-212.
  • Wang JM, Zhu L, Brown VM, De La Garza R, Newton T, King-Casas B, Chiu PH (2019). In cocaine dependence, neural prediction errors during loss avoidance are increased with cocaine deprivation and predict drug use. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging 4:291-299
  • Lauharatanahirun N, Maciejewski D, Holmes C, Deater-Deckard K, Kim-Spoon J, King-Casas B (2018). Neural correlates of risk processing among adolescents: Influences of parental monitoring and household chaos. Child Dev 89(3):784-796.
  • Kim-Spoon J, Maciejewski D, Lee J, Deater-Deckard K, King-Casas, B (2017). Longitudinal associations among family environment, neural cognitive control, and social competence among adolescents. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 26:69-76.
  • Chung D, Christopoulus GI, King-Casas B, Ball SB, Chiu PH. (2015). Social signals of safety and risk confer utility and have asymmetric effects on observers’ choices. Nature Neuroscience 18(6), 912-916.
  • Zhu L, Jenkins AC, Set E, Scabini D, Knight RT, Chiu PH, King-Casas B, Hsu M. (2014). Damage to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex affects tradeoffs between honesty and self-interest. Nature Neuroscience 17:1319-21.
  • Christopoulos GI and King-Casas B. (2014). With you or against you: Social orientation dependent learning signals guide actions made for others. NeuroImage 104:326-35.
  • King-Casas B, Chiu PH. (2012). Understanding interpersonal function in psychiatric illness through multiplayer economic games. Biological Psychiatry 72(2), 119-25.
  • Kishida K, King-Casas B, Montague PR. (2010). Neuroeconomic approaches to mental disorders. Neuron 67, 543-57.
  • Rilling JK, King-Casas B, Sanfey A. (2008). The neurobiology of social decision-making. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 18, 159-65.
  • King-Casas B, Sharp C, Lomax-Bream L, Lohrenz T, Fonagy P, Montague PR. (2008). The rupture and repair of cooperation in borderline personality disorder. Science 321, 806-810.
  • King-Casas, B, Tomlin, D, Anen, C, Camerer, CF, Quartz, SR, Montague, PR (2005). Getting to know you: Reputation and trust in a two-person economic exchange. Science 308:78-83.

Join Us

Accepting graduate students for Fall 2022