Daeyeol Lee

Daeyeol Lee

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine and Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Contact Information

Research Interests: Neural mechanisms of decision making, planning, and numerical cognition

Education: Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Daeyeol Lee is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.  He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Seoul National University in Korea and his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He then received a postdoctoral training in neurophysiology at the University of Minnesota. His current research focuses on the brain mechanisms of decision making, including the role of the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia in reinforcement learning and economic choices. His laboratory also investigates how timing and numerical information is represented and transformed in the brain. His research employs diverse methods developed in economics, psychology, and neuroscience. He is also an expert in statistical modeling of behavioral and neurophysiological data. He has published over 90 original research articles. He was the recipient of the Fellowship for Prominent Collegians from Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies, University Fellowship from the University of Illinois, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation Cognitive Neuroscience Grant.

Economic Decision Making. Outcomes expected from our actions often vary in multiple dimensions, such as the magnitudes and probabilities of gains and losses as well as how soon such outcomes become available.  We study how these qualitatively different pieces of information can be estimated from diverse sources, and how they might be combined to compare the desirabilities or values of different actions.  To understand the nature of underlying computations for such complex decision making and their neural substrates, we develop novel behavioral tasks that can be learned by non-human primates, and probe the activity of neurons in multiple brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia (Kim et al., 2008; Cai et al., 2011). We utilize multi-channel recording techniques and machine learning algorithms to investigate the functions of multiple brain areas involved in decision making. 

Reinforcement Learning. Reinforcement learning theory provides crisp quantitative methods to test how decision makers learn the relationship between actions and their outcomes from the statistical regularities in their environment.  We study how the brain flexibly implements specific reinforcement learning algorithms according to the uncertainty and stability of the environment. For example, depending on the structure of the environment and the amount of experience, animals might rely more on habits and algorithms similar to stimulus-response mapping, or on goal-directed behaviors that require mental simulation of expected outcomes. Moreover, speed of learning needs to be modulated according to the stability of the environment, such that the rate of learning increases with the volatility of the environment. Our previous studies have identified neural signals important for optimizing the learning rate (Massi et al., 2018) and switching between different learning algorithms (Seo et al., 2014).

Temporal and Numerical Cognition. For many behaviors, accurately estimating the timing of important events in the environment is critical for their success. In addition, evaluating and processing the quantities and magnitudes of behaviorally important variables, such as the amount of food or the number of preys or predators, influences the quality of behavioral outcomes. We study how the brain handles multiple concurrent temporal intervals between behaviorally significant events (Kleinman et al., 2016) as well how simple arithmetic operations are implemented in the brain (Massi et al., in preparation).

A more detailed list appears on the Lee Lab website.

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles:


Groman SM, Massi B, Mathias S, Curry D, Lee D, and Taylor JR (2019) Neurochemical and behavioral dissections of decision-making in a rodent multi-stage task. Journal of Neuroscience 39: 295-306.

Groman SM, Massi B, Mathias SR, Lee D, Taylor JR (2019) Model-free and model-based influences in addiction-related behaviors. Biological Psychiatry 85:936-945.

Groman SM, Keistler C, Keip AJ, Hammarlund E, DiLeone RJ, Pittenger C, Lee D, Taylor JR (2019) Orbitofrontal circuits control multiple reinforcement-learning processes. Neuron 103: 734-746. 

Farashahi S, Donahue C, Hayden B, Lee D, and Soltani A. Flexible combination of reward information during choice under uncertainty. Nature Human Behavior. In press

Gribizis A, Ge X, Zeng H, Lee D, and Crair MC. Visual cortex gains independence from peripheral drive during the second post-natal week. Neuron. In press.


Groman SM, Rich KA, Smith NJ, Lee D, and Taylor JR (2018). Chronic exposure to methamphetamine disrupts reinforcement-based decision-making in rats. Neuropsychopharmacology 43: 770-780.

Massi B, Donahue CH, and Lee D (2018) Volatility facilitates value updating in the prefrontal cortex. Neuron 99: 598-608.

Constantinidis C, Funahashi S, Lee D, Murray J, Qi X-L, Wang M, and Arnsten A (2018) Persistent spiking activity underlies working memory. Journal of Neuroscience 38: 7020-7028.


Farashahi S, Donahue CH, Khorsand P, Seo H, Lee D, and Soltani A (2017) Metaplasticity as a neural substrate for adaptive learning and choice under uncertainty. Neuron 94: 401-414.

Park H, Lee, D, and Chey J (2017) Stress and adaptive decision making in a changing environment.  PLoS One 12(7): e1080588.

Farashahi S, Rowe K, Aslami Z, Lee D, and Soltani A (2017) Your favorite color makes learning more adaptable and precise. Nature Communications  8:1768. 

Zhang Z, Fanning J, Ehrlich DB, Chen W, Lee D, and Levy I (2017) Distributed neural representation of saliency-controlled value and category during anticipation of rewards and punishments. Nature Communications 8:1907.  


Lee D and Seo H (2016) Neural basis of strategic decision making. Trends in Neuroscience 39: 40-48.

Gruner P, Anticevic A, Lee D, and Pittenger C (2016) Arbitration between action strategies in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neuroscientist 22: 188-198.

Groman SM, Smith NJ, Petrulli JR, Massi B, Chen L, Ropchan J, Huang Y, Lee D, Morris ED, and Taylor JR (2016) Dopamine D3 receptor availability is associated with inflexible decision making. Journal of Neuroscience 36: 6732-6741.

Kleinman MR, Sohn H, and Lee D (2016) A two-stage model of concurrent interval timing in monkeys. Journal of Neurophysiology. 116: 1068-1081.


Donahue CH and Lee D (2015) Dynamic routing of task-relevant signals for decision making in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Nature Neuroscience 18: 295-301.

Kim K, Huh N, Jang Y, Lee D, and Jung MW (2015) Effect of fictive reward on rat’s choice behavior. Scientific Reports 5:8040. 

Vickery TJ, Kleinman MR, Chun MM, and Lee D (2015) Opponent identity influences value learning in simple games. Journal of Neuroscience 35: 11133-11143. 

Gamo NJ, Lur G, Higley MJ, Wang M, Paspalas CD, Vijayraghavan S, Yang Y, Ramos BP, Peng K, Kata A, Boven L, Lin F, Roman L, Lee D, and Arnsten AFT (2015) Stress impairs prefrontal cortical function through D1 dopamine receptor interactions with HCN channels. Biological Psychiatry 78: 860-870.


Livingstone MS, Pettine WW, Srihasam K, Moore BS, Morocz IA, and Lee D (2014) Symbol addition by monkeys: evidence for normalized quantity coding. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 111:6822-6827. 

Seo H, Cai X, Donahue CH, and Lee D (2014) Neural correlates of strategic reasoning during competitive games. Science 346: 340-343.   

Murray JD, Bernacchia A, Freedman DJ, Romo R, Wallis JD, Cai X, Padoa-Schioppa C, Pasternak T, Seo H, Lee D, and Wang XJ (2014) A hierarchy of intrinsic timescales across primate cortex. Nature Neursocience 17: 1661-1663.            


Kim H, Lee D, Jung MW (2013) Signals for previous goal choice persist in the dorsomedial, but not dorsolateral, striatum of rats. Journal of Neuroscience 33: 35-51.

Jo S, Kim K, Lee D, and Jung MW (2013) Effect of orbitofrontal lesions on temporal discounting in rats. Behavioural Brain Research 245: 22-28.

Lee, D (2013) Decision making: from neuroscience to psychiatry. Neuron 78: 233-248.

Newsome WT, Glimcher PW, Gottlieb J, Lee D, and Platt ML (2013) Comment on “In monkeys making value-based decisions, LIP neurons encode salience and not action value”. Science 340: 430.

Donahue CH, Seo H, and Lee, D (2013) Cortical signals for rewarded actions and strategic exploration. Neuron 80: 223-234.

Maoz U, Rutishauser U, Kim S, Cai X, Lee D, and Koch C (2013) Predeliberation activity in prefrontal cortex and striatum and the prediction of subsequent value judgment. Frontiers in Decision Neuroscience 7: 225. 


Kim S, Bobeica I, Gamo N, Arnsten AF, and Lee D (2012).  Effects of alpha-2A adrenergic receptor agonist on temporal discounting and risk preference in primates.  Psychopharmacology 219: 363-375.

Lee D, Seo H, and Jung MW (2012) Neural basis of reinforcement learning and decision making. Annual Review of Neuroscience 35: 287-308.   

Kim S, Hwang J, Cai X, and Lee D (2012)  Prefrontal activity related to values of objects and locations. Frontiers in Neuroscience 6: 108.

Lee H, Ghim JW, Kim H, Lee D, and Jung MW (2012) Hippocampal neural correlates for values of experienced events. Journal of Neuroscience 32: 15053-15065. 

Chen LL, Lee D, Fukushima K, and Fukushima J (2012) Submovement composition of head movement. PLoS One 7: e47565.

Seo H and Lee D (2012) Neural basis of learning and preference during social decision making. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 22: 990-995. 


Cai X, Kim S, and Lee D (2011) Heterogeneous coding of temporally discounted values in the dorsal and ventral striatum during inter-temporal choice.  Neuron 69: 170-182. 

Bernacchia A, Seo D, Lee D, and Wang X-J (2011) A reservoir of time constants for memory traces in cortical neurons.  Nature Neuroscience 14: 366-372. 

Abe H, and Lee D (2011) Prefrontal neurons carry signals necessary for learning from both actual and hypothetical outcomes.  Neuron 70: 731-741.     

Kim S and Lee D (2011) Prefrontal cortex and impulsive decision making.  Biological Psychiatry 69: 1140-1146.

Wang M, Gamo NJ, Yang Y, Jin LE, Wang XJ, Laubach M, Mazer JA, Lee D, and Arnsten AFT (2011) Neural basis of age-related cognitive decline.  Nature 476: 210-213.    

Sul JH, Lee D, and Jung MW (2011) Neural signals for choice and its evaluation in rodent secondary motor cortex.  Nature Neuroscience 14: 1202-1208.  

Vickery TJ, Chun MM, and Lee D (2011) Ubiquity and specificity of reward signals throughout the human brain. Neuron 72: 166-177.

Abe H, Seo H, and Lee D (2011) Prefrontal cortex and hybrid learning during iterative competitive games. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1239: 100-108.

Seo H, Vickery TJ, and Lee D (2011) Game theory in neuroscience. Cognitive Critique 4: 87-120.


Curtis CE and Lee D (2010) Beyond working memory: the role of persistent activity in decision making. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14: 216-222. 

Sul JH, Kim H, Huh N, Lee D, and Jung MW (2010) Distinct roles of rodent orbitofrontal and medial prefrontal cortex in decision making.  Neuron 66: 449-460.   


Seo H and Lee D (2009) Behavioral and neural changes following the gains and losses of conditioned reinforcers.  Journal of Neuroscience  29: 3627-3641.

Kim S, Hwang J, Seo H, and Lee D (2009) Valuation of uncertain and delayed rewards in primate prefrontal cortex.  Neural Networks 22:294-304. 

Seo H, Barraclough DJ, and Lee D (2009) Lateral intraparietal cortex and reinforcement learning during a mixed-strategy game. Journal of Neuroscience 29: 7278-7289.  

Hwang J, Kim S, and Lee D (2009) Temporal discounting and inter-temporal choice in rhesus monkeys.  Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 3:9.

Kim H, Sul JH, Huh N, Lee D, and Jung MW (2009) Role of striatum in updating values of chosen actions.  Journal of Neuroscience 29: 14701-14712. 


Lee D (2008)  Game theory and neural basis of social decision making. Nature Neuroscience 11: 404-409. 

Kim S, Hwang J, and Lee D (2008) Prefrontal coding of temporally discounted values during inter-temporal choice.  Neuron 59: 161-172.  

Seo H, and Lee D (2008) Cortical mechanisms for reinforcement learning in competitive games. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 363: 3845-3857.

Luhmann C, Chun MM, Yi DJ, Lee D, and Wang, XJ (2008) Neural dissociation of delay and uncertainty in inter-temporal choice. Journal of Neuroscience 28: 14459-14466. 


Averbeck BB, and Lee D (2007)  Prefrontal neural correlates of memory for sequences.  Journal of Neuroscience 27: 2204-2211. 

Lee D, and Seo H (2007) Mechanisms of reinforcement learning and decision making in the primate prefrontal cortex.  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1104: 108-122. 

Lee D, Rushworth M, Walton M, Watanabe M, Sakamagi M (2007). Functional specialization of the primate frontal cortex during decision making. Journal of Neuroscience 27: 8170-8173.

Seo H and Lee D (2007).  Temporal filtering of reward signals in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex during a mixed-strategy game.  Journal of Neuroscience 27: 8366-8377. 

Seo H, Barraclough DJ, and LeeD (2007)  Dynamic signals related to choices and outcomes in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.  Cerebral Cortex 17: i110-i117.

Kim H, Lee D, Shin Y-M, and Chey J (2007) Impaired strategic decision-making in schizophrenia.  Brain Research 1180:90-100. 

Kim Y, Huh N, Lee H, Baeg E, Lee D, and Jung MW (2007) Encoding of action history in the rat ventral striatum.  Journal of Neurophysiology 98: 3548-3556.

Sohn J-W, and Lee D (2007)  Order-dependent modulation of directional signals in the supplementary and presupplementary motor areas.  Journal of Neuroscience 27: 13655-13666. 


Averbeck BB, Sohn J, and Lee D (2006).  Activity in prefrontal cortex during dynamic selection of action sequences.  Nature Neuroscience 9: 276-282.

Lee D (2006).  Neural basis of quasi-ratioanl decision making. Current Opinion in Neurobiology  16:191-198.

Averbeck BB, and Lee D (2006) Effects of noise correlations on information encoding and decoding.  Journal of Neurophysiology 95: 3633-3644.

Lee D, Schieber MH (2006)  Serial correlation in lateralized choices of hand and target.  Experimental Brain Research 174: 499-509.

Soltani A, Lee D, and Wang X-J (2006) Neural mechanism for stochastic behavior during a competitive game.  Neural Networks 19: 1075-1090.

Sohn J-W and Lee D (2006) Effects of reward expectancy on sequential eye movements in monkeys.  Neural Networks 19: 1181-1191. 


Lee D, McGreevy BP, and Barraclough DJ (2005)  Learning and decision making in monkeys during a Rock-Paper-Scissors game. Cognitive Brain Research 25: 416-430.


Averbeck BB and Lee D (2004)  Coding and transmission of information by neural ensembles. Trends in Neuroscience 27: 225-230.

Barraclough DJ, Conroy ML and Lee D (2004).  Prefrontal cortex and decision making in a mixed-strategy game. Nature Neuroscience 7: 404-410.

Lee D (2004) Behavioral context and coherent oscillations in the supplementary motor area. Journal of Neuroscience 24: 4453-4459. 

Lee D, Conroy ML, McGreevy BP, and Barraclough DJ (2004) Reinforcement learning and decision making in monkeys during a competitive game. Cognitive Brain Research 22: 45-58. 


Lee D and Quessy S (2003) Activity in the supplementary motor area related to learning and performance during a sequential visuomotor task. Journal of Neurophysiology  89: 1039-1056. 

Lee D and Quessy S (2003). Visual search is facilitated by scene and sequence familiarity in rhesus monkeys. Vision Research 43: 1455-1463.

Lee D (2003). Coherent oscillations in neuronal activity of the supplementary motor area during a visuomotor task. Journal of Neuroscience 23: 6798-6809.

Averbeck BB and Lee D (2003). Neural noise and movement-related codes in macaque supplementary motor area.  Journal of Neuroscience 23: 7630-7641.


Lee D (2002)  Analysis of phase-locked oscillations in multi-channel single-unit spike activity with wavelet cross-spectrum.  Journal of Neuroscience Methods 115: 67-75. 


Lee D and Chun MM (2001) What are the Units of Visual Short-term Memory: Objects or Spatial Locations? Perception & Psychophysics 63: 253-257.

Port NL, Kruse W, Lee D, and Georgopoulos AP (2001) Motor cortical activity during interception of moving targets. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 13: 306-318.

Lee D, Port NL, Kruse W, and Georgopoulos AP (2001) Neuronal clusters in the primate motor cortex during interception of moving targets. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 13: 319-331.


Lee D (2000) Learning of Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Sequential Hand Movements. Cognitive Brain Research 9:35-39.

Jung MW, Qin Y, Lee D, and Mook-Jung I (2000) Relationship among discharges of neighboring neurons in the rat prefrontal cortex during spatial working memory tasks.  Journal of Neuroscience 20: 6166-6172.

Before 2000:

Lee D, Lee C, and Malpeli JG (1992)  Acuity-sensitivity trade-offs of X and Y cells in the cat lateral geniculate complex: role of the medial interlaminar nucleus in scotopic vision. Journal of Neurophysiology 68: 1235-1247.

Lee D and Malpeli JG (1994)  Global form and singularity: modeling the blind spot's role in geniculate morphogenesis. Science 263: 1292-1294.

Malpeli JG, Lee D, and Baker FH (1996) Laminar and retinotopic organization of the macaque lateral geniculate nucleus: magnocellular and parvocellular magnification functions. Journal of Comparative Neurology 375: 363-377.

Port NL, Lee D, Dassonville P, and Georgopoulos AP (1997)  Manual interception of moving targets: I. Performance and movement initiation. Experimental Brain Research 116: 406-420.

Lee D, Port NL, and Georgopoulos AP (1997) Manual interception of moving targets: II. Online control of overlapping submovements. Experimental Brain Ressearch 116: 421-433.

Lee D, Port NL, Kruse W, and Georgopoulos AP (1998)  Variability and correlated noise in the discharge of neurons in motor and parietal areas of the primate cortex. Journal of Neuroscience 18: 1161-1170.

 Lee D and Malpeli JG (1998)  Effects of saccades on the activity of neurons in the cat lateral geniculate nucleus. Journal of Neurophysiology 79: 922-936.

Lee D (1999) Effects of exogenous and endogenous attention on visually guided hand movements. Cognitive Brain Research 8: 143-156.

Book Chapters:

Lee D, Port NL, Kruse W, and Georgopoulos AP (1998)  Neuronal population coding: Multielectrode recordings in primate cerebral cortex.  In H. Eichenbaum and J. Davis (eds), Neuronal Ensembles : Strategies for Recording and Decoding, New York: Wiley. pp 117-136.

Kruse W, Port NL, Lee D, and Georgopoulos AP (2003).  Neural mechanisms of catching: translating moving target information into hand interception movement. In: Johnson-Frey SH (Ed), Taking action: cognitive neuroscience perspective on intentional acts. Cambridge: MIT Press. pp. 361-375.

Lee D, Barraclough DJ, and Seo H (2007).  Neural basis of social interactions in primates.  Attention and performance XXII: sensorimotor foundation of higher cognition (Eds. Haggard P, Rossetti, Y & Kawato, M).  Oxford University Press. pp. 249-265. 

Lee D and Wang X-J (2008)  Neural circuit mechanisms for stochastic decision making in the primate frontal cortex.  In: Glimcher PW, Camerer CF, Fehr E, and Poldrack RA (eds) Neuroeconomics: decision making and the brain. pp 481-501. 

Lee D (2009) Games in monkeys: neurophysiology and motor decision making. In: Square LR (eds.) Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, volume 4.  Oxford: Academic Press. pp.505-510.

Lee D (2010) Neuroethology of decision making.  In: Platt ML and Ghazanfar AA (eds) Primate Neuroethology.  Oxford Univ Press. pp.550-569.  

Lee D and Seo H (2011) Behavioral and neural variability related to stochastic choices during a mixed-strategy game. In: Ding M, Glanzman DL (eds) Dynamic brain, Oxford University Press, pp. 255-275.  

Lee D, Kim S, and Seo H (2013) Role of prefrontal cortex in reinforcement learning and decision making. In: Principles of Frontal Lobe Functions. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, pp. 259-272.

Lee D, and Dorris MC (2013) Brain circuitry for social decision-making in non-human primates. In: Glimcher PW, Fehr E (eds) Neuroeconomics: decision making and the brain. 2nd ed. pp. 493-511. 

Seo H, and Lee D (2017) Reinforcement learning and strategic reasoning during social decision making. In: Dreher J-C and Tremblay L (eds) Decision Neuroscience: An Integrative Perspective. pp. 225-231. 

Seo H, Kim S, Cai X, Donahue CH, and Lee D (2017) Neural correlates of strategic decision making in the primate prefrontal cortex. In: Watanabe M (ed) Prefrontal cortex as an executive, emotional and social brain. Springer. pp 3-15. 

Editorials and Commentaries:

Lee D (2005) Neuroeconomics: making risky choices in the brain. Nature Neuroscience 8: 1129-1130.

Lee D (2006) Neuroeconomics: best to go with what you know? Nature 441: 822-823.

Funahashi S, Lee D, Rushworth M (2006) Neurobiology of decision making.  Neural Networks 19: 977-979.

Lee D (2007) To touch or not to touch: posterior parietal cortex and voluntary behavior. Neuron. 56: 419-421. 

Seo H and Lee D (2009) Persistent feedback.  Nature 461: 50-51. 

Seo H and Lee D (2010) Orbitofrontal cortex assigns credit wisely.  Neuron 65: 736-738.

Phillips PE, Kim JJ, and Lee D (2012) Neuroeconomics. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 6: 15. 

Arnsten AFT, Murray JD, Seo H, and Lee D (2016) Ketamine’s antidepressant actions: potential mechanisms in the primate medial prefrontal circuits that represent aversive experience. Biological Psychiatry. 79: 713-715.

Arnsten AFT, Lee D, and Pittenger C (2017) Risky business: the circuits that impact stress-induced decision-making. Cell 171: 992-993.

Journal articles about my work:

Stryker MP (1994) Precise Development from Imprecise Rules.  Science 263: 1244-1245.

Platt ML (2004) Unpredictable primates and prefrontal cortex. Nature Neurosci 7: 319-320.

Rapoport A, Bearden JN (2005) Strategic behavior in monkeys. Trends in Cognitive Science 9: 213-215.

Clark AM (2013) Reward processing: a global brain phenomenon? Journal of Neurophysiology 109: 1-4. 

Louie K (2013) Exploiting exploration: past outcomes and future actions. Neuron 80: 6-9.

Fraser KM, Janak PH (2019) How does drug use shift the balance between model-based and model-free control of decision making. Biological Psychiatry 85:886-888.

Costa VD (2019) Of pathways, processes, and orbitofrontal cortex. Neuron 103: 556-558.