Joseph Paton was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and grew up in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. He received his undergraduate degree in biology from Tufts University in 2000. While studying, he worked in research positions at Tufts University and Harvard Medical School. From 2000 to 2002, he worked as a research technician at Stanford University and Columbia University. In 2008, he received his Ph.D. with distinction from Columbia University, and shortly thereafter joined the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, where he was a fellow from 2008 to 2012. He is currently a principal investigator at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, and his laboratory focuses on the neural mechanisms of learning, decision making, action selection and timing, and is particularly centered on the role that the basal ganglia play in these processes. Experimental approaches employed in his laboratory include behavioral, electrophysiological, molecular, imaging, and computational techniques in rodent animal model organisms.