Emily Mackevicius, Ph.D.

Columbia University

Emily Mackevicius is currently a postdoctoral neuroscientist at Columbia University in the lab of Professor Dmitriy Aronov. She received her B.S. in mathematics at the University of Chicago, and her Ph.D. in neuroscience at MIT, in the lab of Professor Michale Fee. Her research investigates what learning mechanisms in the brain give us the power to form and use memories. Her Ph.D. work focused on motor memories which require practice, using birdsong as a model system. She extended previous computational models of song learning to include very early learning of the overall rhythm structure and timing of a tutor song, demonstrated how rhythmically patterned inputs could train a neural network to generate precisely timed sequences, and experimentally verified predictions of these models. Mackevicius also investigated how these neural circuits self-organize in birds that have never heard a tutor and developed a new computational method for unsupervised detection of precisely timed neural sequences (seqNMF).

For her postdoctoral research in Dmitriy Aronov’s lab, Mackevicius is investigating memories that do not require rehearsal, but instead stem from a single ‘episodic’ experience. This work involves developing new theoretical frameworks, as well as a new experimental model system — food-caching birds with extreme memory abilities.

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