William Stauffer

William Stauffer



  1. Neural mechanisms of reward, learning, and decision making.
  2. Gene promoters and viral vectors for cell type-specific gene therapy.


Rewards motivate action, reinforce behavior, and form the basis for many social interactions. I am interested in how the brain processes rewards, and how reward processing deficits contribute to psychiatric, neurological, and neurodegenerative disorders. With these goals in mind, my lab 1) records and analyzes brain signals during reward-guided learning, deliberation, and decision making, and 2) develops new experimental tools to identify, investigate and manipulate the different neuron types that constitute the brain’s reward system. Together, these lines of research will reveal how neural reward systems facilitate behavior, and how reward systems might dysfunction during neurological and neurodegenerative disorders. Moreover, the molecular tools we design – gene promoters and viral vectors for cell type-specific manipulation in nonhuman primates – will constitute a foundational stepping stone for future cell type-specific gene therapies.