Scott Huettel

Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and Chair

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Duke University 1999


Research in my laboratory investigates the brain mechanisms underlying economic and social decision making; collectively, this research falls into the field of “decision neuroscience” or "neuroeconomics". My laboratory uses fMRI to probe brain function, behavioral assays to characterize individual differences, and other physiological methods (e.g., eye tracking, pharmacological manipulation, genetics) to link brain and behavior. Concurrent with research on basic processes, my laboratory has also investigated the application of new analysis methods for fMRI data, including functional connectivity analyses, pattern classification analyses, and combinatoric multivariate approaches. We have also been applying computational methods to problems in behavioral economics and consumer decision making.  

I have also been very active in outreach, mentorship, and educational activities; as examples, I am lead author on the textbook Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Sinauer Associates; 3rd edition in 2014), I teach courses on Decision Neuroscience and Neuroethics, and many of my postdoctoral and graduate trainees (12 as of 2015) lead research laboratories of their own.


Decision making, neuroeconomics, behavioral economics, social cognition, executive function, fMRI

Meade, CS, Hobkirk, AL, Towe, SL, Chen, N-K, Bell, RP, and Huettel, SA. "Cocaine dependence modulates the effect of HIV infection on brain activation during intertemporal decision making." Drug and alcohol dependence 178 (September 2017): 443-451. Full Text

Meade, CS, Addicott, M, Hobkirk, AL, Towe, SL, Chen, N-K, Sridharan, S, and Huettel, SA. "Cocaine and HIV are independently associated with neural activation in response to gain and loss valuation during economic risky choice." Addiction biology (July 6, 2017). Full Text

Li, R, Roberts, RC, Huettel, SA, and Brannon, EM. "Five-year-olds do not show ambiguity aversion in a risk and ambiguity task with physical objects." Journal of experimental child psychology 159 (July 2017): 319-326. Full Text

Cordero, DM, Towe, SL, Chen, N-K, Robertson, KR, Madden, DJ, Huettel, SA, and Meade, CS. "Cocaine dependence does not contribute substantially to white matter abnormalities in HIV infection." Journal of neurovirology 23.3 (June 2017): 441-450. Full Text

Li, R, Smith, DV, Clithero, JA, Venkatraman, V, Carter, RM, and Huettel, SA. "Reason's Enemy Is Not Emotion: Engagement of Cognitive Control Networks Explains Biases in Gain/Loss Framing." The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 37.13 (March 6, 2017): 3588-3598. Full Text

Delgado, MR, Beer, JS, Fellows, LK, Huettel, SA, Platt, ML, Quirk, GJ, and Schiller, D. "Viewpoints: Dialogues on the functional role of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex." Nature Neuroscience 19.12 (November 29, 2016): 1545-1552. Full Text

Jenke, L, and Huettel, SA. "Issues or Identity? Cognitive Foundations of Voter Choice." Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20.11 (November 2016): 794-804. Full Text

Kwak, Y, and Huettel, SA. "Prosocial Reward Learning in Children and Adolescents." Frontiers in Psychology 7 (October 5, 2016). Full Text

Meade, CS, Cordero, DM, Hobkirk, AL, Metra, BM, Chen, N-K, and Huettel, SA. "Compensatory activation in fronto-parietal cortices among HIV-infected persons during a monetary decision-making task." Human brain mapping 37.7 (July 2016): 2455-2467. Full Text

San Martín, R, Kwak, Y, Pearson, JM, Woldorff, MG, and Huettel, SA. "Altruistic traits are predicted by neural responses to monetary outcomes for self vs charity." Social cognitive and affective neuroscience 11.6 (June 2016): 863-876. Full Text


Martin, RS, and Huettel, SA. "Cognitive functions as revealed by imaging of the human brain." Neuroscience in the 21st Century: From Basic to Clinical, Second Edition. January 1, 2016. 2727-2753. Full Text

Huettel, SA. "Novel developments in cognitive fMRI." fMRI: From Nuclear Spins to Brain Functions. September 16, 2015. 557-579. Full Text

Utevsky, AV, and Huettel, SA. "Social Decision Making." Brain Mapping: An Encyclopedic Reference. February 14, 2015. 231-234. Full Text

Coutlee, CG, and Huettel, SA. "Rules, rewards, and responsibility: A reinforcement learning approach to action control." Moral Psychology, Volume 4: Free Will And Moral Responsibility. January 1, 2014. 327-334.

San Martin, R, and Huettel, SA. "Cognitive functions as revealed by imaging of the human brain." Neuroscience in the 21st Century: From Basic to Clinical. November 1, 2013. 2213-2238. Full Text

Venkatraman, V, Payne, JW, and Huettel, SA. "Neuroeconomics of risky decisions: From variables to strategies." Decision Making, Affect, and Learning: Attention and Performance XXIII. May 1, 2011. Full Text

Venkatraman, V, Huettel, SA, Libedinsky, C, and Chee, MWL. "Economic decision-making and the sleep-deprived brain." Neuroimaging of Sleep and Sleep Disorders. January 1, 2010. 145-153. Full Text

Madden, DJ, Whiting, WL, and Huettel, SA. "Age-related changes in neuralactivity during visual perception and attention." Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging: Linking cognitive and cerebral aging. May 1, 2009. Full Text


Libedinsky, C, Smith, D, Huettel, S, and Chee, MW. "REWARD VALUATION IN SLEEP-DEPRIVED INDIVIDUALS." 2011.

Madden, D, Spaniol, J, Whiting, W, Bucur, B, Provenzale, J, Cabeza, R, and Huettel, S. "Adult age differences and similarities in the functional neuroanatomy of visual attention: Evidence from FMRI." 2005.

Medical Scientist Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1997 to 2022

Nicotine Withdrawal and Reward Processing: Connecting Neurobiology to Real-World Behavior awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Mentor). 2017 to 2022

Improving Adherence to Adjuvant Endocrine Therapy in Breast Cancer Patients awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2016 to 2021

Targeting reward dysfunction as a mechanism to improve smoking cessation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Mentor). 2016 to 2021

Behavioral and Physiology in Aging awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2015 to 2020

Nonparametric Bayes Methods for Big Data in Neuroscience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Mentor). 2014 to 2019

The Modulatory Role of Reward on Attentional Brain Processes awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2006 to 2018

Basic predoctoral training in neuroscience awarded by National Institutes of Health (Training Faculty). 1992 to 2018