I studied a combination of neurobiology, computer science and neural engineering for my undergraduate education at the University of Washington. Here at MIT, I am working on a project at the intersection of neuroscience and cognitive science. I strongly believe that by understanding fundamental principles of the brain we are better able to engineer better intelligent systems, approach medicine and neuro-technology in a more informed manner, and achieve a personal and philosophical satisfaction towards understanding the human mind. I hope to work with someone who is also just as excited as I am in bridging between cognitive behavior and neural implementation. I am also interested in various topics outside of research, including advocating for underrepresented populations in education and innovation, philosophy, entrepreneurship, language learning and dance.
Principal Investigator: Mehrdad Jazayeri
Fellow: Chisom Ume
“Hierarchical and counterfactual reasoning”
Imagine a doctor thinking of a hierarchy of if-then scenarios to decide which course of action to take for a patient, and needing to make flexible adjustments to their decisions on the fly. How does the brain achieve this level of flexibility in complex decision settings? To investigate this question, this interdisciplinary research project uses a combination of human psychophysics, monkey electrophysiology and computational modeling tools to answer this question. Specifically, we study intuitive physics tasks that involve deliberating between multiple possibilities. Our results show humans and monkeys use an intriguing mental strategy wherein subjects parcel the problem into more manageable decisions, and use counterfactual reasoning to flexibly deliberate between them. Next steps in the project are analyzing brain signals related to counterfactual reasoning, training artificial networks to solve these tasks and modeling subject eye movements to reveal dynamic cognitive processes.