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Philippe Tobler

Philippe Tobler


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Philippe Tobler is associate professor of neuroeconomics and social neuroscience at the Zurich Center for Neuroeconomics at the Department of Economics of the University of Zurich (Switzerland). He co-led the Improving Welfare by Increasing Attention project.

Tobler received his PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2004 under the supervision of Wolfram Schultz. After postdoctoral research in Cambridge and London (UCL), he held a University Research Fellowship of the Royal Society at the University of Oxford (UK), followed by a Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship at the University of Zurich, where he became a member of the faculty in 2010.

The overarching goal of Tobler’s research is to understand the basic processes underlying motivation, learning and value-based decision-making. He focuses on characterizing the role of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, and hormones, such as testosterone, for adaptive processing of economic value and risk. He has also worked on social learning, elucidated the essential involvement of various regions of the neocortex for value-based decisions, and, in collaborative work, applied some of his basic insights to humans with disorders such as schizophrenia, addiction and obesity. His project, Improving Welfare by Increasing Attention, explored whether limited attention is the mechanism underlying behavioral irrationality and whether choices can be improved by increasing attention.

Philippe Tobler | Awards Film

Philippe Tobler | Insights Film

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Philippe Tobler's Insights

Abstract: Foraging theory prescribes when optimal foragers should leave the current option for more rewarding alternatives. Actual foragers often exploit options longer than prescribed by the theory, but it is unclear how this foraging suboptimality arises. We investigated whether the upregulation of cholinergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic systems increases foraging optimality. In