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Elliot Ludvig (Professor)

 Elliot Ludvig



I study how humans and other animals learn to make good decisions about the rewards in their environment. My research mixes ideas and approaches from animal learning, human neuroscience, and artificial intelligence in trying to build and test computer models of the simple learning algorithms embodied in the brain.

Current projects in my lab explore how people make decisions where rewards are either uncertain or delayed, the factors that influence dishonest behaviour in people, curiosity and exploration in pigeons, the formation of habits, and the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in timing and time perception.

Research topics: Reinforcement learning, decision making, risky choice, gambling, moral decision-making, social learning, timing and time perception, decisions from experience, planning and imagination, episodic memory, fairness perception, classical and operant conditioning, computational modeling, neuroeconomics, epigenetics, and comparative cognition.

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Representative Publications:

  • Ludvig, E. A., Madan, C. R., McMillan, N., Xu, Y., & Spetch, M. L. (in press). Living near the edge: How extreme outcomes and their neighbors drive risky choice. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
  • Miller, K., Shenhav, A., & Ludvig, E. A. (in press). Habits without values. Psychological Review.
  • Rand, D., Tomlin, D. A., Bear, A., Ludvig, E. A., & Cohen, J. D. (2017). Cyclical population dynamics of automatic versus controlled processing: An evolutionary pendulum. Psychological Review, 124, 626-642.
  • Williams, D. A., Todd, T. P., Chubala, C. M., & Ludvig, E. A. (2017). Intertrial unconditioned stimuli differentially impact trace conditioning. Learning & Behavior, 45, 49-61.
  • McDevitt, M., Dunn, R., Spetch, M. L., & Ludvig E. A. (2016). When good news leads to bad choices. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 105, 23-40.
  • Perera, P., Canic, E., & Ludvig, E. A. (2016). Cruel to be kind but not cruel for cash: Harm aversion in the dictator game. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23, 893-898.
  • Ludvig, E. A., Madan, C. R., & Spetch, M. L. (2015). Priming memories of past wins induces risk seeking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144, 24-29.
  • Wilson, R. C., Geana, A., White, J. M., Ludvig, E. A., & Cohen, J. D. (2014). Humans use random and directed exploration to solve the explore-exploit trade-off. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 2074-2081

Download open access versions of publications

Supervisor to:

Xiaomu Guo
Michael Hattersley