Michael L. Platt

James S. Riepe University Professor

BA, Biomedical Anthropology, Yale University

Ph.D., Biological Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Our lab tries to understand how the brain makes decisions. We are particularly interested in the biological mechanisms that allow people and other animals to make decisions when the environment is ambiguous or complicated by the presence of other individuals. We use a broad array of techniques, including single neuron recordings, microstimulation, neuropharmacology, eye tracking, brain imaging, and genomics to answer these questions. Our work is motivated by ethology, evolutionary biology, and economics, with a focus on how specific features of the physical and social environment have shaped the biological mechanisms that mediate decisions. We are particularly interested in why different people make different kinds of decisions. And we are also keen to know why people sometimes make very similar, and sometimes make very different, decisions than other animals do. The National Institutes of Health, the Klingenstein Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, the McDonnell Foundation, the EJLB Foundation, Autism Speaks, the Simons Foundation, the Davis Foundation for Eating Disorders Research, and the Department of Defense have supported our work. Our research has been featured in the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and National Geographic, as well as on ABC’s Good Morning America, ABC’s Boston Legal, NPR, CBC, BBC, and MTV.


Research Interests: 

Animal Learning and Behavior
Control of Action
Decision Processes
Individual Differences and Behavior Genetics

Specific Research Areas:
Brain and Society
Circuits and Behavior
Neurological and Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Department of Neuroscience (Perelman School of Medicine)
Department of Marketing (The Wharton School)
Department of Psychology (School of Arts & Sciences)

Selected Publications: 

Watson, KK, Li, D, Brent, LJN, Horvath, JE, Gonzalez-Martinez, J, Ruiz-Lambides, A, Robinson, AG, Skene, JHP, Platt, ML (2015). Genetic influences on social attention in free-ranging rhesus macaques. Anim. Behav., in press.

Ebitz, RA and Platt ML (2015). Neuronal activity in primate dorsal anterior cingulate cortex signals task conflict and predicts adjustments in pupil-linked arousal. Neuron, Volume 85, Issue 3, pp. 628–640.

Mueller JK, Grigsby EM, Prevosto V, Petraglia FW, Rao H, Deng Z-D, Peterchev AV, Sommer MA, Egner T, Platt ML, and Grill WM (2014) Optimization of transcranial magnetic stimulation and single neuron recording methods for combined application in alert non-human primates. Nature Neuroscience, in press.

Chang SWC, Brent LJN, Adams GK, Klein JT, Pearson JM, Watson KK, and Platt ML (2013) Neuroethology of primate social behavior. PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1301213110.

Ebitz RB, Watson KK, and Platt ML (2013) Oxytocin blunts social vigilance in the rhesus macaque. PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1305230110.

Klein, J and Platt, ML (2013) Social signals in primate striatum. Current Biology Volume 23, Issue 8, 691-696.

Brent LJN, Heilbronner SR, Horvath JE, Gonzalez-Martinez J, Ruiz-Lambides AV, Robinson A, Skene JHP, Platt ML. (2013) Genetic origins of social networks in rhesus macaques. Nature Scientific Reports. 3:1042.

Heilbronner SR and Platt ML (2013) Causal evidence of performance monitoring by neurons in posterior cingulate cortex during learning. Neuron 80 (6), 1384-1391.

Yorzinski, J.L., Patricelli, G.L., Babcock, J., Pearson, J.M. & Platt, M.L. (2013) Through their eyes: selective attention in peahens during courtship. Journal of Experimental Biology 216: 3035-3046.

Watson, K.K. and Platt, M.L. (2012) Social signals in primate orbitofrontal cortex. Current Biology. Dec 4;22(23):2268-73.

Roy A, Shepherd,SV, and Platt ML (2012) Reversible inactivation of pSTS suppresses social gaze following in the macaque (Macaca mulatta). Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. Nov 28 doi: 10.1093/scan/nss123.

Chang SW, Barter JW, Ebitz RB, Watson KK and Platt ML (2012a)  Inhaled oxytocin amplifies both vicarious reinforcement and self reinforcement in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).  Proc Natl Acad Sci, 109, 959–964.

Chang SW, Gariepy JF, and Platt ML (2012b) Neuronal reference frames for social decisions in primate frontal cortex. Nature Neuroscience. Dec 23;16(2):243-50.

Hayden, B.Y., Pearson, J., and Platt, M.L. 2011. Neuronal basis of sequential foraging decisions in the macaque. Nature Neuroscience. Jul;14(7):933-9.

Stanton, S., Mullette-Gillman, O., McLaurin, R., Kuhn, C., LaBar, K., Platt, M.L., and Huettel, S. 2011. Low and high testosterone individuals exhibit decreased aversion to economic risk. Psych. Sci. Apr;22(4):447-53.

Smith DV, Hayden BY, Truong TK, Song AW, Platt ML, Huettel SA. 2010. Distinct value signals in anterior and posterior ventromedial prefrontal cortex. J. Neurosci. 30(7):2490-5.

Watson, K.K., Werling, D., Zucker, N., and Platt, M.L. 2010. Altered social reward and attention in anorexia nervosa. Frontiers in Psychopathology 1, article 36.

Hayden, B.Y., Smith, D. and Platt, M.L. 2009. Electrophysiological correlates of default-mode processing in macaque posterior cingulate cortex. PNAS 106(14):5948-53.

Shepherd, S.V., Klein, J., and Platt, M.L. 2009. Mirroring of attention by neurons in macaque parietal cortex. PNAS 106(23):9489-94.

Hayden, B.Y., Pearson, J., and Platt, M.L. 2009. Fictive reward signals in anterior cingulate cortex. Science 324:948-50.

Pearson, J., Hayden, B.Y., and Platt, M.L. 2009. Neurons in posterior cingulate cortex signal exploratory decisions in a dynamic multi-option choice task. Current Biology 19(18):1532-7.

Shepherd, S.V., Klein, J., and Platt, M.L. 2009. Mirroring of attention by neurons in macaque parietal cortex. PNAS 106(23):9489-94.

Hayden, B.Y., Nair, A.C., McCoy, A.N., and M. L. Platt. 2008. Posterior cingulate cortex mediates outcome-contingent allocation of behavior. Neuron Vol 60:19-25.

Platt, M.L. and Huettel, S.A. 2008. Risky business: the neuroeconomics of decision making under uncertainty. Nature Neuroscience 11(4):398-403.

Klein, J., Deaner, R.O., and Platt, M.L. 2008. Social valuation signals in macaque parietal area LIP. Current Biology 18(6):419-24.

Roitman, J.D., Brannon, E.M., and Platt, M.L. 2007. Monotonic coding of numerosity in macaque lateral intraparietal area. PLoS Biology 5(8):e208.

Hayden, B.Y. and Platt, M.L. 2007. Temporal discounting predicts risk preferences in monkeys. Current Biology 17(1):49-53.

Hayden, B.Y., Parikh, P.C., Deaner, R.O., and Platt, M.L. 2007. Economic principles motivating social attention in humans. Proc. R. Soc. B. 274:1751-6.

Roitman, J.D., Brannon, E.M., and Platt, M.L. 2007. Monotonic coding of numerosity in macaque lateral intraparietal area. PLoS Biology 5(8):e208.

Shepherd, S.V., Deaner, R.O., and Platt, M.L. 2006. Social status gates social attention in rhesus macaques. Current Biology 16(4):R119-20.

Huettel, S.A., Stowe, C.J., Gordon, E.M., Warner, B.T., and Platt, M.L. 2006. Neural signatures of economic preferences for risk and ambiguity. Neuron 49(5):765-75.

Deaner, R.O., Khera, A.V. and Platt, M.L. 2005. Monkeys pay per view: Adaptive valuation of social images by rhesus macaques. Current Biology 15:543-8.

McCoy, A.N. and Platt, M.L. 2005. Risk-sensitive neurons in macaque posterior cingulate cortex. Nat. Neurosci.8:1220-1227.

McCoy, A.N., Crowley, J.C., Dean, H.L., Haghighian, G., and Platt, M.L. 2003. Saccade reward signals in posterior cingulate cortex. Neuron 40:1031-1040. 

Platt, M.L. and Glimcher, P.W. 1999. Neural correlates of decision variables in parietal cortex. Nature 400:233-238.