Professor Armin Lak

Professor Armin Lak

Tutorial Fellow in Pre-Clinical Medicine


I was an undergraduate in Biology in Trieste, Italy before studying for a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. After my PhD, I took up a Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship for four years at University College London and Cold Spring Harbor Lab in New York. In 2019, I moved to Oxford to launch my lab with a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship and an ERC starting grant. I joined St John’s as a Tutorial Fellow in October 2023.


I teach Physiology and Neuroscience to Pre-clinical Medicine and Biomedical Sciences students.

Research Interests

The goal of my lab is to gain a quantitative circuit-level understanding of neuronal mechanisms that subserve learning and decision-making. Specifically, we are interested in how the brain integrates external sensory signals with internal reward and motivational signals for making decisions, and how the brain learns to make decisions under uncertainty. We particularly focus on understanding the roles that frontostriatal circuits play during decision-making, and how neuromodulators, in particular the dopamine system, shape learning and decision-making under uncertainty.

We employ a multi-disciplinary approach including high-count electrophysiology (Neuropixels probes), cell type-specific multi-photon imaging, optogenetic manipulations, highly-controlled behavioural tasks in mice, and computational modelling of behavioural and neuronal data.

Selected publications

Fritsche M., Majumdar A., Strickland L., Liebana Garcia S., Bogacz R., Lak A., 'Temporal regularities shape perceptual decisions and striatal dopamine signals', bioRxiv, 2023

Farrell K., Lak* A., Saleem* A.B., 'Midbrain dopamine neurons signal phasic and ramping reward prediction error during goal-directed navigation', Cell Reports, 2022

Moss M., Zatka-Haas P., Harris K.D., Carandini M., Lak A., '​Dopamine axons in dorsal striatum encode contralateral visual stimuli and choices', Journal of Neuroscience, 2021

Masset* P, Ott* T, Lak A, Hirokawa J, Kepecs A, Behavior- and modality-general representation of confidence in orbitofrontal cortex. Cell, 2020.

Lak A., Hueske E., Hirokawa J., Masset P., Ott T., Urai A.E., Donner T.H., Carandini M., Tonegawa S., Uchida N., Kepecs A., 'Reinforcement biases subsequent perceptual decisions when confidence is low, a widespread behavioral phenomenon', eLife, 2020

Lak A., Okun M., Moss M., Gurnani H., Farrell K., Wells M.J., Bai Reddy C., Kepecs A., Harris K.D., Carandini M., 'Dopaminergic and Prefrontal Basis of Learning from Sensory Confidence and Reward Value', Neuron, 2020. See Preview by Stolyarova and Wikenheiser at Neuron.