Suzanne N. Haber, Ph.D.

Dean's Professor and Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Physiology in the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester

Dr. Suzanne N. Haber’s laboratory focuses on the neural network that underlies reward and decision-making leading to the development of goal directed behaviors, habit formation and good decision-making.  At the center of this network are the cortical and basal ganglia circuits.  Learning, adapting, and optimizing goal-directed behaviors require the ability not only to evaluate different aspects of reward, but also to develop appropriate action plans and inhibit inappropriate choices on the basis of previous experience.  This requires integrating different aspects of reward processing, and interaction of reward circuits and brain regions involved in cognition and motor control.  Dr. Haber’s work is particularly focused on the anatomical substrates that mediate the integration of information across distributed networks.  The results demonstrate areas within prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia structures there are specific locations (hubs) that received inputs from highly diverse functional regions and are thus uniquely positioned to disperse information in their communication with other brain regions. These results are particularly important for understanding the mechanism that underlies the abnormalities in psychiatric disorders.  A second focus of the laboratory is delineating the organization of white matter bundles, segmenting them based on the location PFC fibers within them.  The results show that abnormalities within these bundles can be linked to specific prefrontal connections.  Dr. Haber’s laboratory combines state of the art anatomical techniques with computer modeling, and imaging to understand the organization of cortico-basal ganglia circuits, thus linking the precision of anatomical studies and the more indirect methods of circuitry studies using MRI techniques.  This translational approach is used to gain a better understanding of the cortico-basal ganglia network in humans .