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Chiu Lab

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Led by principal investigator Pearl Chiu, Ph.D., the Chiu Laboratory examines the neuroscience of human motivation and social decision-making. Dr. Chiu’s work is also at the forefront of Computational Psychiatry, an emerging field that broadly applies quantitative model-based understandings of neural functioning to understand the neural and behavioral decision-making processes that break down in mental illness.

Ongoing projects use multiple methods, including behavioral tasks, self-report, clinical interviews, computational models, and functional neuroimaging to:

  • Study the neural substrates of how, when, and why humans make and change their decisions;
  • Detail how these neurobehavioral systems are affected in disorders marked by difficulties in motivated decision-making (e.g., major depression, addiction, PTSD, autism)
  • Develop biologically-informed interventions to remediate these functional deficits.

Participate in One of Our Research Studies

Teen Neurofeedback Study

A study that shows teenagers, ages 12-16, the activity in their brains as they make decisions in an MRI scanner. This technique, called neurofeedback, will help us to learn more about how the brain works.

Teen Decision Study

A study to understand how individual differences in decision-making affect the development of the brain during adolescence.

blue smoke

Brain Imaging Study of Smokers and Vapers

A study to understand how cigarette or e-cigarette users process different kinds of information.

A study to understand how feelings related to depression or anxiety may affect how the brain makes decisions.

A study to understand how people with and without a range of difficulties process different kinds of information.

Teenager Brain Imaging Study

A brain research study of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 14.5. 

Meet the Lab



  • Kevin McKee, Ph.D., Postdoctral Statistician, Center for Biostatistics and Health Data Science, Virginia Tech
  • Katherine McCurry, Ph.D., Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
  • Mark Orloff, Ph.D., Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

Lab News