This employee is no longer with the VTC Research Institute.
Ignacio Sáez, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Description of Work
I am interested in the study of human cognition, and especially in the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in valuation and decision-making mechanisms. I plan to combine a variety of experimental methods with computational models of reinforcement learning to study human neural activity in two main projects:
- Sub-second electrochemical (fast-scan cyclic voltammetry) recordings of dopamine concentrations in dopaminergic target nuclei (primarily striatum) of human patients during a neuroeconomic task.
- High-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of human midbrain nuclei (dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic) during a simple decision-making task.
I am also interested in the study of the social aspects of human cognition, which I plan to explore using simultaneous fMRI scanning (hyper-scanning) of multiple subjects engaged in a social task. The study of quintessentially human cognitive traits (complex behavioral repertoire, ability to value abstract rewards, sensitivity to social signals) will allows us to better understand how these affect a wide range of human activities, from social organization to education to economics.
Education and Training
- Baylor College of Medicine: Postdoctoral fellowship
- Baylor College of Medicine: Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow, Baylor College of Medicine
- Kishida, K.T., Sandberg, S.S., Lohrenz, T., Comair, Y.G., Saez, I.G., Phillips, P.E.M., and Montague, P.R. (2011). Sub-second dopamine detection in human striatum. PLoS ONE 6(8), e23291.
- Saez, I and Friedlander, MJ. (2009). Plasticity between neuronal pairs in layer 4 of visual cortex varies with synapse state. J. Neurosci 29, 15286-15298.
- Saez, I and Friedlander, MJ. (2009). Synaptic output of individual layer 4 neurons in guinea pig visual cortex. J. Neurosci 29, 4930-4944.
- Argence M, Sáez I, Sassu R, Vassias I, Vidal PP, de Waele C. (2006). Modulation of inhibitory and excitatory synaptic transmission in rat inferior colliculus after unilateral cochleectomy: an in situ and immunofluorescence study. Neuroscience 141(3), 1193-207.