Assistant Professor of Neural Science
When I was studying medicine in Iran I became interested in systems neuroscience, especially how the interaction of neural populations gives rise to perception, cognition, and goal directed behavior. In parallel to my medical studies, I pursued my interest by getting involved in building the first primate electrophysiology lab in the country and studying the neural representation of object categories in the ventral visual pathway.
Following this challenging and successful experience, I spent 8 years studying the neural mechanisms of perceptual decision-making, first as a Ph.D. student in Mike Shadlen’s lab at the University of Washington and then as a post-doctoral fellow in Bill Newsome’s lab at Stanford. My current research at NYU focuses on how the brain combines various sources of information to commit to a choice, to assign a sense of certainty to the choice, and to update behavioral strategies in a complex environment.
Our questions drive the experimental techniques. We currently use multiple electrode recording, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and selective stimulation or inactivation of small neural clusters. In our experiments we record and manipulate neural responses in various brain areas while subjects engage in moderately complex decision-making tasks. These experiments computational studies provide a powerful set of tools to answer our questions. We hope that an accurate understanding of the neurophysiology of decision-making will lead to a better understanding of the disorders of perception and ideation, and will ultimately enable us to develop new medical interventions for patients suffering from mental and cognitive disorders.