Towards a Translational Model of Decision-Making: Findings from the Web-Surf Task

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Towards a Translational Model of Decision-Making: Findings from the Web-Surf Task

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


Interventions targeting cognitive disorders often hinge on assumptions that humans and nonhuman animals recruit equivalent cognitive mechanisms during decision- making. Identifying parallel decision systems across species could help bridge gaps between clinical and non-clinical research, and in turn, improve intervention efficacy. The goal of this dissertation is to assess for similar behavioral and neural markers of decision-making across humans and rodents using a sequential foraging paradigm (“The Web-Surf Task”) that was adapted from a rodent spatial neuroeconomic task (“Restaurant Row”). The included studies highlight a functional translational approach that aims to access similar functional constructs via parallel tasks and methodological approaches. The results provide evidence of cross-species behavioral equivalents, such as the ability to detect revealed preferences. Findings from a neuroimaging study suggest that different neural systems track past and forward representations, indicative of human prospection during deliberation (i.e., episodic future thinking). Moreover, neural activation related to difficult decisions is similar to many of the structures that underlie rodent deliberation. Lastly, a risk-variant of the task suggests that regret-instances provide a bridge between our liking and pursuit of rewards. This final study also finds that impulsive individuals may fail to learn from regret. Collectively, this dissertation demonstrates the utility of this novel task for elucidating human deliberative mechanisms and identifying cross-species decision system compatibilities.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.August 2017. Major: Psychology. Advisors: Angus MacDonald, A. Redish. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 214 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Abram, Samantha. (2017). Towards a Translational Model of Decision-Making: Findings from the Web-Surf Task. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.