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 courses on Decision Neuroscience and Neuroethics, and many of my postdoctoral and graduate trainees (12 as of 2015) lead research laboratories of their own.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Duke University 1999

Selected Grants

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

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

Exploring Reactions to Health Warnings on Waterpipe Tobacco Ads awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2018 to 2020

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

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

Mechanisms Regulating Complex Social Behavior awarded by University of Pennsylvania (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2020

The Modulatory Role of Reward on Attentional Brain Processes awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2006 to 2019


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


Li, Rosa, et al. “Developmental Maturation of the Precuneus as a Functional Core of the Default Mode Network..” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 31, no. 10, Oct. 2019, pp. 1506–19. Epmc, doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01426. Full Text

Warwick, Hunter, et al. “Small Social Incentives Did Not Improve the Survey Response Rate of Patients Who Underwent Orthopaedic Surgery: A Randomized Trial..” Clin Orthop Relat Res, vol. 477, no. 7, July 2019, pp. 1648–56. Pubmed, doi:10.1097/CORR.0000000000000732. Full Text

Zhang, Xue, et al. “Exploring common changes after acute mental stress and acute tryptophan depletion: Resting-state fMRI studies..” J Psychiatr Res, vol. 113, June 2019, pp. 172–80. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.03.025. Full Text

McDonald, Kelsey R., et al. “Bayesian nonparametric models characterize instantaneous strategies in a competitive dynamic game..” Nat Commun, vol. 10, no. 1, Apr. 2019. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41467-019-09789-4. Full Text

Amasino, Dianna R., et al. “Amount and time exert independent influences on intertemporal choice..” Nature Human Behaviour, vol. 3, no. 4, Apr. 2019, pp. 383–92. Epmc, doi:10.1038/s41562-019-0537-2. Full Text

Sullivan, Nicolette J., et al. “Indulgent Foods Can Paradoxically Promote Disciplined Dietary Choices..” Psychol Sci, vol. 30, no. 2, Feb. 2019, pp. 273–87. Pubmed, doi:10.1177/0956797618817509. Full Text

Hobkirk, Andréa L., et al. “Reward and executive control network resting-state functional connectivity is associated with impulsivity during reward-based decision making for cocaine users..” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 194, Jan. 2019, pp. 32–39. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.09.013. Full Text

Shelby, Rebecca A., et al. “Testing a behavioral intervention to improve adherence to adjuvant endocrine therapy (AET)..” Contemp Clin Trials, vol. 76, Jan. 2019, pp. 120–31. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.cct.2018.11.010. Full Text

Lighthall, Nichole R., et al. “Feedback-Based Learning in Aging: Contributions and Trajectories of Change in Striatal and Hippocampal Systems..” J Neurosci, vol. 38, no. 39, Sept. 2018, pp. 8453–62. Pubmed, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0769-18.2018. Full Text

Meade, Christina S., et al. “Synergistic effects of marijuana abuse and HIV infection on neural activation during a cognitive interference task..” Addict Biol, Sept. 2018. Pubmed, doi:10.1111/adb.12678. 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.

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.

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.

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