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Dr Chau obtained his DPhil degree from University of Oxford and his MPhil and BSc degrees from The University of Hong Kong. His key research interests are in the neuroscience of reward-guided decision making and learning with focus on the ventral prefrontal cortex (PFC) of the brain. The PFC takes up approximately 15% of the total human brain volume and is important to a wide range of higher cognitive processes. Early neuroscience research tended to treat the PFC as a unity and sometimes overlooked the functional difference between PFC sub-regions. He is particularly interested in taking a closer look to investigate the dissociable roles of sub-regions within the ventral PFC in decision making and reinforcement learning.

Dr Chau generally conducts his research using a combination of neuroimaging, behavioural testing and computational modelling techniques. His research findings mainly show that (1) in two-option decisions, a lateral part of the ventral PFC (namely the lateral orbitofrontal cortex) is important for learning and guiding optimal decisions and; (2) in three-option decisions, how people make suboptimal decisions and how the signal of a medial part of the ventral PFC (namely the ventromedial prefrontal cortex) is compromised. These findings were published in highly recognized journals including Nature Neuroscience and Neuron.

Research interests

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Decision making
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Computational modelling

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor of Science, The University of Hong Kong

Master of Philosophy, The University of Hong Kong

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford


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