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Dr Kristin Hillman

Kristin HillmanDr Kristin Hillman’s current research examines the neural mechanisms of decision-making, particularly how the brain assesses and implements effort expenditure in cost-benefit type decisions. Her interests include the neurophysiology underlying executive function, ambitious behaviour and work ethic, with applications to behaviour modification and psychopharmacology.

Cost-benefit decision-making frequently requires an assessment of effort: Am I willing to put in the work required to achieve X? Our research examines how the brain formulates and eventually executes this decision. To make optimal decisions, your brain must assess whether a certain course of action is going to be ‘worth the effort.’ This requires detecting the amount of effort that is going to be required, and weighing it up against the value of the end reward. We’ve hypothesized that neurons in a particular region of the prefrontal cortex encode such effort-reward ratios, and signal whether a certain course of action is going to be worth the effort. By encoding and storing this information, the brain enables us to then make an informed decision as to how we expend effort.

Read more about Dr Hillman's research.

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Publications

Hillman, K. L., & Bilkey, D. K. (2012). Neural encoding of competitive effort in the anterior cingulate cortex. Nature Neuroscience, 15(9), 1290-1298. doi: 10.1038/nn.3187

Hillman, K. L., & Bilkey, D. K. (2010). Neurons in the rat anterior cingulate cortex dynamically encode cost-benefit in a spatial decision-making task. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(22), 7705-7713. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1273-10.2010

Laurence, N. C., Labuschagne, L. G., Lura, B. G., & Hillman, K. L. (2015). Regular exercise enhances task-based industriousness in laboratory rats. PLoS ONE, 10(6), e0129831. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129831

Hillman, K. L. (2013). Cost-benefit analysis: The first real rule of fight club? Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7, 248. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00248

Hillman, K. L., Lei, S., Doze, V. A., & Porter, J. E. (2009). Alpha-1A adrenergic receptor activation increases inhibitory tone in CA1 hippocampus. Epilepsy Research, 84, 97-109. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2008.12.007

Journal - Research Article

Laurence, N. C., Labuschagne, L. G., Lura, B. G., & Hillman, K. L. (2015). Regular exercise enhances task-based industriousness in laboratory rats. PLoS ONE, 10(6), e0129831. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129831

Hillman, K. L. (2013). Cost-benefit analysis: The first real rule of fight club? Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7, 248. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00248

Hillman, K. L., & Bilkey, D. K. (2012). Neural encoding of competitive effort in the anterior cingulate cortex. Nature Neuroscience, 15(9), 1290-1298. doi: 10.1038/nn.3187

Hillman, K. L., & Bilkey, D. K. (2010). Neurons in the rat anterior cingulate cortex dynamically encode cost-benefit in a spatial decision-making task. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(22), 7705-7713. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1273-10.2010

Hillman, K. L., Lei, S., Doze, V. A., & Porter, J. E. (2009). Alpha-1A adrenergic receptor activation increases inhibitory tone in CA1 hippocampus. Epilepsy Research, 84, 97-109. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2008.12.007

Hillman, K. L., Doze, V. A., & Porter, J. E. (2007). α1A-Adrenergic receptors are functionally expressed by a subpopulation of cornu ammonis 1 interneurons in rat hippocampus. Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, 321, 1062-1068. doi: 10.1124/jpet.106.119297

Jurgens, C. W. D., Hammad, H. M., Lichter, J. A., Boese, S. J., Nelson, B. W., Goldstein, B. L., … Hillman, K. L., … Doze, V. A. (2007). α2A adrenergic receptor activation inhibits epileptiform activity in the rat hippocamal CA3 region. Molecular Pharmacology, 71(6), 1572-1581. doi: 10.1124/mol.106.031773

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Journal - Research Other

Hillman, K. L., & Bilkey, D. K. (2013). Persisting through subjective effort: A key role for the anterior cingulate cortex? Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 36(6), 691-692. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X13001039

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