Lusha Zhu, Peking University Boya Distinguished Professor; principal investigator at School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and PKU-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences at Peking University, China.

Research in our laboratory focuses primarily on the neural and cognitive processes of social decision-making. We ask how the human brain anticipates actions or intentions of others with value-based goals to produce choices within interpersonal interactions. For example, in a rock-paper-scissor game, how does an individual predict which action her opponent will select? This inferential ability is probably one of the most complex functions of human intelligence, and its pathological expressions are believed to be closely related to social abnormalities seen in psychiatric conditions ranging from borderline personality disorder to autism spectrum disorders.

My lab aims to develop a quantitative, mechanistic understanding of how social inferences and choices are made by reverse-engineering human decisions recorded in controlled experiments of interpersonal games. Using computational models of behavior, we deconstruct the complex decision-making process into elemental, interacting sub-operations, and test whether and how these individual components work using neuroscience tools. This research incorporates methods from game theory, decision, social, and cognitive neuroscience, and, sometimes, social network analysis and computational linguistics. We use this interdisciplinary approach to address two broad areas of inquiry:

(i) how does the brain learn from past interacting experience to draw inferences about the social environment?

(ii) how does the brain decide what to do in novel interacting situations in the absence of direct experience?

Each research theme employs novel combinations of game-theoretic paradigms, computational models, and neuroscience methods. In addition to this research, my lab has also developed close collaborations with developmental psychologists and clinical researchers, investigating how decision-making abilities develop in children and how the underlying mechanism goes awry in psychiatric conditions.

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List of Publications

# co-first author,  * co-corresponding author

Y Jiang, Q Mi, L Zhu*. Neurocomputational mechanism of real-time distributed learning on social networks. Nature Neuroscience 2023.

Y Jiang#, H.T. Wu#, Q Mi, L Zhu*. Neurocomputations of strategic behavior: From iterated to novel interactions. WIREs Cognitive Science 2022

V Brown, L Zhu, A Solway, J Wang, K McCurry, B King-Casas*, P Chiu*. Reinforcement learning disruptions in individuals with depression and sensitivity to symptom change following cognitive behavioral therapy. JAMA Psychiatry. 2021

Q Mi, C Wang, C F. Camerer, L Zhu*. Reading between the lines: Listener’s vmPFC simulates speaker cooperative choices in communication games. Science Advances. 2021

L Zhu*, Y Jiang, D Scabini, RT. Knight, M Hsu*. Patients with basal ganglia damage show preserved learning in an economic game. Nature Communications. 2019.

S Ai#, Y Yin#, Y Chen, C Wang, Y Sun, X Tang, L Lu, L Zhu*, J Shi*. Promoting subjective preferences in simple economic choices during nap. eLife. 2018.

AC Jenkins, P Karashchuk, L Zhu, M Hsu*. redicting human behavior toward members of different social groups. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2018.

VM Brown, L Zhu, JM Wang, BC Frueh, B King-Casas*, PH Chiu*. Associability-modulated loss learning is increased in posttraumatic stress disorder. eLife. 2018.

JM Wang, L Zhu, VM Brown, V, R De La Garza II, T Newton, B King-Casas*, PH Chiu*. In cocaine dependence, neural prediction errors during loss avoidance are increased with cocaine deprivation and predict drug use. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. 2018

CA Jenkins, L Zhu*, M Hsu*. Cognitive neuroscience of honesty and deception: a signaling framework. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 2016.

I Saez, L Zhu, E Set, A Kayser, M Hsu*. Dopamine modulates egalitarian behavior In humans. Current Biology, 2015.

L Zhu, AC Jenkins, E Set, D Scabini, R Knight, P Chiu, B King-Casas, and Ming Hsu*. Damage to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex affects tradeoffs between honesty and self-interest. Nature Neuroscience, 2014.

E Set, I Saez, L Zhu, D Houser, N Myung, S Zhong, RP Ebstein*, SH Chew*, and M Hsu*. Dissociable contribution of prefrontal and striatal dopaminergic genes to learning in economic games. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014.

L Zhu, K Mathewson, M Hsu*. Dissociable neural representations of reinforcement and belief prediction errors underlie strategic learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012.