Posted August 15, 2012 by Natalie Geld in brain imaging

Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy, PhD: Value Based Decision Making + Ethics in Research

Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy, PhD is Senior Researcher and heading the Decision Neuroscience Research Group, a collaboration between the Copenhagen Business School and the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance. Ramsøy was originally trained as a clinical neuropsychologist and worked with clinical assessment of neurological bases for disorders of the mind, but with a keen interest in basic questions of consciousness and cognitive science. Since acquiring the skills of neuroimaging through his PhD, his work has focused on different aspect"Thomas Ramsøy Image with Brain"s of the neural bases of perception, emotion and consciousness.

During the past years, Ramsøy has embarked on employing these skills and knowledge on the problem of value-based decision making, in the nascent fields of neuroeconomics and decision neuroscience. Through this, he is heading major projects that seek to unravel the basic neural and mental mechanisms that underlie our decisions. The work is multidisciplinary, combining economics, psychology and cognitive neuroscience. This work is done both through studying decisions in healthy subjects, such as the neural bases of framing effects, and the study of decision making in conditions such as problem gambling, impulse control disorders, and polysubstance usage.

Ramsøy has a keen interest in the ethical aspects of his research.
Well aware that the work he represents can be used to sway consumers, his own team heads research in which interventions are sought to improve decision making in both healthy subjects and mental disorders.



His work focuses on a range of different topics, including:

  • neuroeconomics — preferences and decision making
  • imaging genetics
  • development and ageing
  • consciousness
  • modularity
  • visual cognition
  • evolution

The resulting interest in neuroethics stems from a speculation about the findings from these areas. Concerns about practical issues and especially ethical, folk-psychological and philosophical consequences of brain imaging have given rise to this interest. Together with Martin Skov he writes on a book (in Danish) on neuroethics.


In this video, Dr. Thomas Ramsoy and his colleague is performing fMRI scanning. The test lasts for 6.5 min. During the testing, the subject is shown multiple pictures, majority of them being mascots of familiar brands. The scanner registers blood flow changes in certain regions of the brain, indicating areas, activated by single image. The purpose is to get scientific evidence for branding.

TZR is also the managing editor of the Science & Consciousness Review – SciCon Review or SCR – which is featured here in mbSci’s website… it is an online forum/journal reviewing the scientific study of the mind.

A hint of some upcoming beats from our group:

1) fMRI results on how brand logos and “mascots” are processed in the brain
2) first results from the study of unconscious behavoural indications of brand preferences (no scanning)
3) a new method to record brain activation during movie presentation (fMRI with only one run, new neat method)


  • Preferences and decision making
  • Visual perception and memory in the medial temporal lobe
  • Structural and functional changes in young MDMA (ecstasy) abusers
  • The aging brain — functional changes in medial temporal lobe structures [PhD project]
  • Brain maturation in 7-12 year old healthy subjects; individual differences and developmental trajectories
  • CIMBI — Center for Integrated Molecular Brain Imaging
  • NEUROECONOMICS – I am currently working as a Senior Researcher at the Decision Neuroscience Project, a position at the Copenhagen Business School and the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance. The main aim is to study decision making processes, and the underlying mechanisms leading to preference formation and decisions in life-like situations, using functional neuroimaging methods to study, e.g., gambling, consumer behaviour and political reasoning. In addition, we expect to study pathological states such as ludomania, conmulsive shopping and brain lesions. Together, these studies are expected to provide novel information about the neural bases of decision making, and to inform economic models of decision making.


  • Bbrains_.gifRAIN IMAGING – My work at the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance focuses on different ways of measuring the living brain, including morphological and functional studies. Recently, the use of MRI approaches is being combined with other modalities such as genotyping and PET scanning, through the new CIMBI project.



  • "Gestalt Image"VISUAL COGNITION – What makes us see, recognise objects, encode and recall them. In my Ph.d. project I am studying the medial temporal lobe, and especially the sub-structures that this area consists of. The research is focused on the perirhinal cortex, an area of intense research these days, and the site of the earliest identified neuropathology in Alzheimer’s disease.



  • "Looking Within"CONSCIOUSNESS – I have been involved in different studies of consciousness, both from a neurobiological approach but also more methodologically, i.e. how we study consciousness empirically in a valid way. I have been involved from the beginning of the Science & Consciousness Review, an online journal/e-zine for the scientific study of the mind.




  • "fMRI Brain Scan Thomas Ramsoy"NEUROETHICS – From neuroscience research, several issues are currently being raised about what the study of the mind actually does to humanity. Is our understanding of ourselves as humans being challenged? Is brain science capable of transcending the natural capacities of the human mind? These issues are raised and discussed in our blog, BrainEthics.


More on Thomas…


was born on the 19. April, 1973 in Oslo, Norway. I grew up in Oslo and moved to Denmark in 1994. I am now a certified MSs in Psychology (cand.psych.aut.), trained in clinical, empirical and theoretical neuropsychology. I was married 1999 to Majken Zoëga Ramsøy, artist, art teacher, and have two sons; Mike (born 1991) and Frederik Malte (born 1999). I enjoy living in Rørvig, close to the water, to go fly fishing, enjoy arts, music and literature.

You can find out more about TZR on his homepage, on the CBS homepage and on the DRCMR homepage. You can also send him an email at thomasr AT drcmr DOT dk.


Natalie Geld

Co-founder + Creative Director of mbSci, Natalie Geld is a writer, communications specialist, producer, and educator, and has spent much of her life fostering educational opportunities for activating vivid human potential. She researches the integral nature of energy and the relationship of science, consciousness, and our health.