I joined St. John’s as a Junior Research Fellow in Psychology in October 2019. Before this, I conducted my DPhil work in Experimental Psychology under the supervision of Chris Summerfield in Oxford, studying how humans integrate available rewarding offers with their current goals. My academic background is in Psychology and Cognitive Science.
I am interested in how we choose to prioritize one goal over others and how we subsequently plan optimal pursuit of this goal. Such sophisticated planning requires integration of what is available in the environment and how pursuit of one goal impacts other goals and needs (e.g. exercise tends to increase hunger and thirst). While we understand relatively well how people track progress in the environment once a goal has been chosen, we know relatively little about how this goal was selected in the first place at the expense of other relevant goals. In the lab, I thus try to tackle the problem of how we plan at the level of goals using computational modelling, behavioural tasks, and neuroimaging experiments. Better understanding the mechanism by which we prioritize goals is particularly important because this is a skill that is often impaired in patients with mood disorders. Whilst my current focus is to develop new paradigms to study prioritization, I aim to utilize these to better understand the differences in this process between patients with mood disorders and control participants. If this is successful, it may help diagnosis and allow better tailored treatments for these disorders.
- Juechems, K., and Summerfield, C. (2019). Where Does Value Come From? Trends Cogn. Sci. 23, 836–850. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2019.07.012
- Juechems, K., Balaguer, J., Ruz, M., and Summerfield, C. (2017). Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Encodes a Latent Estimate of Cumulative Reward. Neuron 93, 705-714.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2016.12.038
- Juechems, K., Balaguer, J., Herce Castañón, S., Ruz, M., O’Reilly, J.X., and Summerfield, C. (2019). A Network for Computing Value Equilibrium in the Human Medial Prefrontal Cortex. Neuron 101, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2018.12.029