Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Kahnt Laboratory

About Our Lab

Research in the lab examines the neural and computational principles of reward-guided behavior, with a focus on odor-guided behavior.  We study brain systems involved in reward processing, learning, generalization, and decision-making such as the striatum and the orbitofrontal cortex.  For this, we use a combination of human olfactory psychophysics, computational modeling, fMRI and advanced multivariate analyses techniques borrowed from machine learning.  This research may pave the way for understanding decision-making deficits in neurological diseases and addiction, and should ultimately lead to novel diagnostic markers and treatment strategies for these disorders.

Selected Publications

Howard JD, Gottfried JA, Tobler PN, Kahnt T. Identity-specific coding of future rewards in the human orbitofrontal cortexProc Natl Acad Sci USA 2015, 112(16):5195-200. PMID: 25848032

Kahnt T, Weber S, Hacker H, Robbins TW, Tobler PN. Dopamine D2-receptor blockade enhances decoding of prefrontal signals in humansJournal of Neuroscience 2015 Mar 4; 35(9):4104-11. PMID: 24639493

Kahnt T, Park SQ, Haynes JD, Tobler PN. 2014. Disentangling neural representations of value and salience in the human brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 111(13):5000-5. PMID: 24639493

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News & Events

Our work in the news: Food odors are more enticing to sleep-deprived brains (, April 2, 2017)

New paper: Howard JD, Kahnt T. Identity-Specific Reward Representations in Orbitofrontal Cortex Are Modulated by Selective Devaluation. J Neurosci. 2017 Mar 8;37(10):2627-2638.

New grant: Our NIH/NIDCD R01 grant application Principles of olfactory reward processing in the human brain (R01DC015426) was funded.

New grant: Our NIH/NIDA R03 grant application Neural mechanisms of context-dependent stimulus generalization in humans (R03DA040668) was funded.


Thorsten Kahnt, PhD

Thorsten Kahnt, PhD
Assistant Professor in Neurology - Ken and Ruth Davee Department

For more information, click here to visit our department page.