Robb Rutledge, University College London
A computational and neural model for mood dynamics
The happiness of individuals is an important metric for societies, but we know little about how the cumulative influence of daily life events are aggregated into subjective feelings. Using computational modeling, I consistently find that momentary happiness (a proxy for mood) in decision tasks is explained not by task earnings, but by the combined influence of past rewards and expectations. The robustness of this account was evident in a large-scale smartphone-based replication. I also find that happiness relates to dopamine, and introduce a new computational model describing the role of dopamine in decision making under uncertainty. In ongoing research, we quantify how subjective feelings relate to decision making across a wide variety of environments in both healthy and clinical populations.