Scott Huettel

Scott Huettel

Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

External Address: 
B243e LSRC, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90999, Durham, NC 27708-0999


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 Fundamentals of Decision Science, Decision Neuroscience and Neuroethics, and many of my postdoctoral and graduate trainees now lead research laboratories of their own.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Duke University 1999

Selected Grants

Mechanisms Regulating Complex Social Behavior awarded by University of Pennsylvania (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2026

Behavior and Physiology in Aging awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2015 to 2025

Rapid measurement of prefrontal cortical activity using parallelized diffuse correlation spectroscopy awarded by Air Force Office of Scientific Research (Co-Principal Investigator). 2021 to 2024

Neurobiology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2019 to 2024

Improving Adherence to Adjuvant Endocrine Therapy in Breast Cancer Patients awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2016 to 2022

A High-Performance 3T MRI for Brain Imaging awarded by National Institutes of Health (Minor User). 2021 to 2022

Targeting reward dysfunction as a mechanism to improve smoking cessation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Mentor). 2016 to 2022

Exploring Reactions to Health Warnings on Waterpipe Tobacco Ads awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2018 to 2021


Massar, Stijn A. A., et al. Sleep deprivation, effort allocation and performance. Vol. 246, 2019, pp. 1–26. Epmc, doi:10.1016/bs.pbr.2019.03.007. Full Text

Huettel, S. A. “Functional MRI (fMRI).” Encyclopedia of Spectroscopy and Spectrometry, 2017, pp. 778–84. Scopus, doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-803224-4.00053-4. Full Text

Jack, J., et al. “Mapping rhetorical topologies in cognitive neuroscience.” Topologies as Techniques for a Post-Critical Rhetoric, 2017, pp. 125–50. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-51268-6_7. Full Text

Martin, R. S., and S. A. Huettel. “Cognitive functions as revealed by imaging of the human brain.” Neuroscience in the 21st Century: From Basic to Clinical, Second Edition, 2016, pp. 2727–53. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-3474-4_82. Full Text

Huettel, S. A. “Novel developments in cognitive fMRI.” FMRI: From Nuclear Spins to Brain Functions, 2015, pp. 557–79. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-1-4899-7591-1_19. Full Text

Utevsky, A. V., and S. A. Huettel. “Social Decision Making.” Brain Mapping: An Encyclopedic Reference, vol. 3, 2015, pp. 231–34. Scopus, doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-397025-1.00185-8. Full Text

Coutlee, C. G., and S. A. Huettel. “Rules, rewards, and responsibility: A reinforcement learning approach to action control.” Moral Psychology, Volume 4: Free Will And Moral Responsibility, 2014, pp. 327–34.

San Martin, R., and S. A. Huettel. “Cognitive functions as revealed by imaging of the human brain.” Neuroscience in the 21st Century: From Basic to Clinical, 2013, pp. 2213–38. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-1997-6_82. Full Text

Venkatraman, V., et al. “Neuroeconomics of risky decisions: From variables to strategies.” Decision Making, Affect, and Learning: Attention and Performance XXIII, 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199600434.003.0007. Full Text

Venkatraman, V., et al. “Economic decision-making and the sleep-deprived brain.” Neuroimaging of Sleep and Sleep Disorders, 2010, pp. 145–53. Scopus, doi:10.1017/CBO9781139088268. Full Text


Sullivan, Nicolette J., et al. “Peer presence increases the prosocial behavior of adolescents by speeding the evaluation of outcomes for others.Scientific Reports, vol. 12, no. 1, Apr. 2022, p. 6477. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41598-022-10115-0. Full Text

Breslav, Alexander D. S., et al. “Shuffle the Decks: Children Are Sensitive to Incidental Nonrandom Structure in a Sequential-Choice Task.Psychol Sci, vol. 33, no. 4, Apr. 2022, pp. 550–62. Pubmed, doi:10.1177/09567976211042007. Full Text

Blankenstein, N. E., et al. “Resolving ambiguity: Broadening the consideration of risky decision making over adolescent development.” Developmental Review, vol. 62, Dec. 2021. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.dr.2021.100987. Full Text

Sullivan, Nicolette J., and Scott A. Huettel. “Healthful choices depend on the latency and rate of information accumulation.Nature Human Behaviour, vol. 5, no. 12, Dec. 2021, pp. 1698–706. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01154-0. Full Text

Lee, V. K., et al. “The hidden cost of humanization: Individuating information reduces prosocial behavior toward in-group members.” Journal of Economic Psychology, vol. 86, Oct. 2021. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.joep.2021.102424. Full Text

Khaw, Mel W., et al. “Oversampling of minority categories drives misperceptions of group compositions.Cognition, vol. 214, Sept. 2021, p. 104756. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104756. Full Text

Hall, Shana A., et al. “Hypoactivation in the precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex during ambiguous decision making in individuals with HIV.J Neurovirol, vol. 27, no. 3, June 2021, pp. 463–75. Pubmed, doi:10.1007/s13365-021-00981-1. Full Text

Bachman, Matthew D., et al. “Disruptions of Sustained Spatial Attention Can Be Resistant to the Distractor's Prior Reward Associations.Front Hum Neurosci, vol. 15, 2021, p. 666731. Pubmed, doi:10.3389/fnhum.2021.666731. Full Text

Jenke, L., and S. A. Huettel. “Voter Preferences Reflect a Competition Between Policy and Identity.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 11, Oct. 2020. Scopus, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.566020. Full Text

Kranton, Rachel, et al. “Deconstructing bias in social preferences reveals groupy and not-groupy behavior.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 117, no. 35, Sept. 2020, pp. 21185–93. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.1918952117. Full Text


THE IMPACT OF FEEDBACK TIMING ON VALUE LEARNING IN AGING.” The Gerontologist, vol. 55, no. Suppl_2, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2015, pp. 140–140. Crossref, doi:10.1093/geront/gnv513.03. Full Text


Appelbaum, Lawrence, et al. “NEURORHETORIC: MAPPING THE SEMANTIC STRUCTURE OF COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, MIT PRESS, 2013, pp. 260–61.

Libedinsky, C., et al. “REWARD VALUATION IN SLEEP-DEPRIVED INDIVIDUALS.” Sleep, vol. 34, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2011, pp. A78–A78.

Wang, Lihong, et al. “Modulation Effect of Rumination Trait and Low Tryptophan on Default-Mode Network Connectivity.” Biological Psychiatry, vol. 67, no. 9, ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2010, pp. 224S-224S.

Yaxley, Richard H., et al. “Brain activation during decisions involving behavioral risk: Adolescents v. adults.” Biological Psychiatry, vol. 63, no. 7, ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2008, pp. 79S-79S.

Bucur, B., et al. “Age-related decreases in cerebral white matter integrity: Implications for episodic and semantic retrieval processes.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, M I T PRESS, 2005, pp. 234–234.

Huettel, S., et al. “Choices between gambles: Effects of certainty, risk, and ambiguity upon brain systems for decision making and reward evaluation.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, M I T PRESS, 2005, pp. 221–221.

Madden, D., et al. “Adult age differences and similarities in the functional neuroanatomy of visual attention: Evidence from FMRI.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, M I T PRESS, 2005, pp. 154–154.

Erwin, Savannah, et al. Data from: Neurobiology of social reward valuation in adults with a history of anorexia nervosa. 27 Nov. 2018. Manual, doi:10.7924/r45t3km1m. Full Text