Welcome to the Neuroscience of Reward and Decision Making Call for Papers

– The submission deadline for this Collection has been extended to December 3, 2019 –


– Guest Editors –

Matthew Rushworth

Jane Taylor

Satoshi Ikemoto

Robert Whelan

Stephanie Groman

– Calls for Papers for a shared PLOS Collection –  

Humans and other animals must make decisions in order to survive. To make a decision, it is necessary to consider the costs and benefits of a given choice and learn from the resulting outcomes to make better decisions in the future. Thus, decision making and learning are closely intertwined. When organisms encounter new situations, they draw on their previous experiences to make novel inferences about what choice to take. Key aspects of decision making are only apparent when decisions occur in the context of social interactions where other agents are also making decisions.

An interdisciplinary approach to research into the neural underpinnings of both reward and decision making has begun to advance our understanding of these complex processes. Research in this area may also improve our understanding of how these mechanisms go awry in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Abnormal reward and decision making processes are core components of numerous psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and drug addiction, and are believed, in part, to contribute to the psychosocial problems that are observed in individuals with these disorders. Research investigating the neural underpinnings of reward and decision-making processes in normal and pathological states can, therefore, provide insights into how these processes may be altered in these disorders.

PLOS ONEPLOS Biology, and PLOS Computational Biology invite you to submit your work on the neural basis of reward and decision making, including research in both human and animal subjects. We welcome contributions that 1) utilize neuroimaging, electrophysiology, pharmacology, molecular/cellular, circuitry, and brain stimulation techniques to elucidate the neural mechanisms of reward, motivation and decision making; 2) delineate reward and decision-making processes that are affected in patient populations and animal models of/for psychiatric disorders; and 3) develop and validate computational analyses relevant to reward and decision making.

Examples of research in this area include:

  • Cognitive neuroscience research that advances our understanding of the neuroscientific basis to reward and decision making in healthy human populations.
  • Research in patient populations that aims to delineate the neural basis of altered reward and decision-making processes in individuals with psychiatric disorders.
  • Research in animals, including rodents and non-human primates, using techniques such as electrophysiology, calcium-imaging, fMRI, optogenetics, chemogenetics and pharmacology to understand neural mechanisms of A) reward and motivational control of reward-seeking behavior and B) decision making and action control.
  • Development and validation of computational models relevant to reward and decision making.
  • Neuroscientific research on learning processes relevant to reward and decision making.
  • The development of reward and decision making over the lifespan, particularly in adolescents and in older adults.
  • The role of genetics in the neuroscientific basis of reward and decision making.

PLOS ONE accepts scientifically rigorous research, regardless of perceived impact. PLOS ONE’s broad scope provides a platform to publish primary research, including interdisciplinary and replication studies, as well as negative results. The journal’s publication criteria are based on high ethical standards and the rigor of the methodology and conclusions reported.

PLOS Biology is a selective Open Access journal that features Research Articles, Short Reports and Methods & Resources articles of exceptional significance, originality, and quality in all areas of biological science. Submissions must clearly demonstrate novelty and importance to a particular field.

PLOS Computational Biology is an Open Access journal featuring Research Articles, Methods, Software, and Benchmarking papers across computational biology. The journal publishes works of exceptional significance that further our understanding of living systems at all scales—from molecules and cells, to patient populations and ecosystems—through the application of computational methods. Run by a volunteer editorial board, papers submitted to the journal will be handled by experienced editors who are all working scientists.

Articles should be submitted by December 3, 2019. Accepted articles that fall into the scope described above will be included in a Collection that will be published in early 2020. The final Collection will include papers published in PLOS ONEPLOS Biology and PLOS Computational Biology.

Inclusion of submitted papers in the Collection will be determined by Guest Editors for each respective journal.

When submitting to the Collection, select the Article Type “Research Article” and specify that you are submitting to the  “Neuroscience of Reward and Decision Making” Call for Papers in your cover letter. 


– Meet the Editors –


Matthew Rushworth

Guest Editor, PLOS Biology

Matthew Rushworth’s research has focussed on understanding brain circuits for learning, decision making, and social cognition. His interests have included comparing brain circuits in humans and other animals, the role of prefrontal and cingulate brain regions in value-guided decision making and the learning of links between choices and their consequences. He has also investigated the neural basis of learning and decision making in social contexts.

Matthew is based in the Department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford where his laboratory is funded by the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council. He has also collaborated extensively with the Oxford centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) and Wellcome Trust Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN).


Jane Taylor

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE

Dr. Jane Rebecca Taylor is the Charles B.G., Murphy Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Yale University School of Medicine and Yale University. She is an expert in behavioral neuroscience with interests in decision-making, learning, memory, and motivational processes that relate to addiction, alcoholism, depression, stress and other psychiatric diseases. She received her undergraduate training at the University of Sussex and her graduate training at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Her laboratory in the Division of Molecular Psychiatry at Yale combines sophisticated behavioral analyses in rodents with pharmacologic, optogenetic, viral, molecular/cellular and computational analyses. Dr. Taylor’s research program aims to integrate translational and basic neuroscience approaches to understanding mental illness through collaborate research. Her key findings have been on topics such as decision-making, inhibitory control, habits, motivation, memory and reinforcement learning, the role plasticity-associated signaling mechanisms in frontal limbic-striatal circuits, and the impact of sex differences on behavior and in normal and pathophysiological states.


Satoshi Ikemoto

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE and PLOS Computational Biology

Satoshi Ikemoto is a Senior Investigator and the Chief of Neurocircuitry of Motivation Section at National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health. He investigates neural circuits that regulate motivation of anticipatory behavior triggered by positive and negative stimuli, including abused drugs, food, brain stimulation, and footshock, using animal models.

Ikemoto received a BA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a MA and a PhD from Bowling Green State University. He performed postdoctoral work at Indiana University, Louisiana State University and NIDA.


Robert Whelan

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE and PLOS Computational Biology

Robert Whelan is Associate Professor of Psychology in the Global Brain Health Institute and the School of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, and a Principal Investigator in the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. The majority of his research is directed towards answering clinically relevant questions, using structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging, high-density electroencephalography and behavioural assays.

Dr. Whelan studies reward processing and decision making in addiction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and in normal development in adolescents and young adults. This work also incorporates the use of computational models in combination with neuroimaging to better disentangle underlying mechanisms. Recent work also includes longitudinal studies that examine how reward processing and decision making change over time, including how they may be modulated by the presence or absence of substances such as methylphenidate and nicotine. To date, Prof. Whelan has published over 135 articles. He holds a degree in Applied Psychology from University College Cork (2001) and a PhD in Psychology from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (2004).


Stephanie Groman

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE and PLOS Computational Biology

Dr. Stephanie Groman is a research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University. She received her B.S. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research has focused broadly on the mechanisms underlying reward, decision-making and cognitive control in the context of mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, addiction and ADHD.

Dr. Groman’s research program integrates techniques from diverse levels analyses in both rodents and non-human primates to: 1) understand the computational mechanisms that underlie pathological behaviors, 2) identify the circuitry and molecular mechanisms governing complex behaviors, and 3) dissociate the mechanisms mediating vulnerability from pathology in mental illness. Most recently, she has been examining the neurodevelopmental mechanisms that govern decision-making in order to identify early biomarkers of mental illness. Her multidisciplinary research approach has provided substantial insights into the mechanisms governing normal and abnormal behaviors.

– PLOS ONE Handling Editors –

Frederic Alexandre Hasan Ayaz Nadine Bernhardt Caroline Brennan
Mukesh Dhamala Caroline Di Bernardi Luft Juan Dominguez Andrew Dykstra
Christopher Fetsch Bruno Giros Matthew Gullo David P. Jarmolowicz
Veena Kumari Mike Le Pelley Evan Livesey Kenway Louie
David Luque Verena Ly Genela Morris Ross Otto
Maria Serena Panasiti Tommy Pattij Hengyi Rao Giuseppe Sartori
David Smith Eelke Snoeren Alireza Soltani Carles Soriano-Mas
Enzo Tagliazucchi Marco Tamietto Guido van Wingen Consuelo Walss-Bass
  Darrell Worthy Pengfei Xu  


Submission Instructions

Are you ready to submit or want to learn more about how the submission process works? To make it as easy as possible for our communities, PLOS ONE has all of our submission instructions posted online. If there are any general queries or if you have any questions for PLOS ONE, please email us at

Submission instructions for PLOS Biology are posted here and questions can be directed to

Submission instructions for PLOS Computational Biology are posted here and questions can be directed to

Authors should specify the Call for Papers, “Neuroscience of Reward and Decision Making,” in their cover letter and, additionally for PLOS ONE, in the ‘Collections and Calls for Papers’ field under ‘Additional Information’ on the submission form.


Publishing Process

Papers submitted to PLOS ONE and under consideration for the Neuroscience of Reward and Decision Making Collection will be handled by selected active researchers from our Editorial Board, and in most cases by one of the PLOS ONE Handling Editors listed above. Papers submitted to PLOS Biology and PLOS Computational Biology will be handled with their respective standard processes, with curation from the Guest Editors.

Authors are advised to select the appropriate journal based on each journal’s scope criteria. Submissions that do not meet the criteria or scope for PLOS Biology or PLOS Computational Biology may be offered the opportunity to transfer to PLOS ONE.

For more information please see the Editorial and Peer Review Information page for PLOS ONEPLOS Biology, or PLOS Computational Biology, as relevant. 


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 PLOS Papers Illustrating the Collection Scope –

Influence of Dopaminergically Mediated Reward on Somatosensory Decision-Making

Authors: Burkhard Pleger, Christian C. Ruff, Felix Blankenburg, Stefan Klöppel, Jon Driver, Raymond J. Dolan

PLOS Biology

Signatures of Value Comparison in Ventral Striatum Neurons

Authors: Caleb E. Strait, Brianna J. Sleezer, Benjamin Y. Hayden

PLOS Biology

Neural Mechanisms Underlying Motivation of Mental Versus Physical Effort

Authors: Liane Schmidt, Maël Lebreton, Marie-Laure Cléry-Melin, Jean Daunizeau, Mathias Pessiglione

PLOS Biology

Elevated Functional Connectivity in a Striatal-Amygdala Circuit in Pathological Gamblers

Authors: Jan Peters, Stephan Franz Miedl, Christian Büchel


The Neural Basis of Decision-Making and Reward Processing in Adults with Euthymic Bipolar Disorder or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Authors: Agustin Ibanez , Marcelo Cetkovich, Agustin Petroni, Hugo Urquina, Sandra Baez, Maria Luz Gonzalez-Gadea, Juan Esteban Kamienkowski, Teresa Torralva, Fernando Torrente, Sergio Strejilevich, Julia Teitelbaum, Esteban Hurtado, Raphael Guex, Margherita Melloni, Alicia Lischinsky, Mariano Sigman, Facundo Manes


Separate Populations of Neurons in Ventral Striatum Encode Value and Motivation

Authors: Gregory B. Bissonette, Amanda C. Burton, Ronny N. Gentry, Brandon L. Goldstein, Taylor N. Hearn, Brian R. Barnett, Vadim Kashtelyan, Matthew R. Roesch


CACNA1C gene regulates behavioral strategies in operant rule learning

Authors: Georgia Koppe, Anne Stephanie Mallien, Stefan Berger, Dusan Bartsch, Peter Gass, Barbara Vollmayr, Daniel Durstewitz

PLOS Biology

Adolescents, Adults and Rewards: Comparing Motivational Neurocircuitry Recruitment Using fMRI

Authors: James M. Bjork, Ashley R. Smith, Gang Chen, Daniel W. Hommer