Pooja Viswanathan is a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Erin L. Rich at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in neuroscience completed at the University of Tübingen and the International Max Planck Research School. She completed her B.S. in life sciences from Osmania University in India.
Viswanathan is interested in the ways that our brains change with experience and how these changes are reflected in our behavior. Her current work focuses on how the brain deals with difficulty to discover new, flexible ways to solve a task. She has previously studied how personal experience and familiarity affect the responses in a brain area specialized for faces in the lab of Dr. Winrich Freiwald. In graduate school, she worked with Dr. Andreas Nieder to demonstrate that neurons in the brain spontaneously estimate discrete quantities even in nonhuman primates without numerical experience. The existence of such neurons before learning revealed that we have a sense of number. For this work, she was awarded the Foerderpreis from the Deutsches Primatenzentrum and the Maria and Reinhold Teufel prize.