Principal Investigator

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Michael J. Frank

Edgar L. Marston Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences

Ph.D., Neuroscience & Psychology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2004
M.A., Electrical Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2000
B.S., Electrical Engineering, Queen's University, 1997

Hometown: Montreal, Canada

My interests include computational modeling of neural mechanisms underlying
reinforcement learning, decision making, working memory and inhibitory control. I develop
neural network and mathematical models of interactions between basal ganglia, frontal cortex,
and hippocampus, and modulation of these brain areas by dopamine and other neuromodulators.
I test theoretical predictions of the models using various neuropsychological, electrophysiological,
pharmacological, neuroimaging and genetic techniques.

Phone: (401) 863-6872
Fax: (401) 863-2255
Office: Metcalf 355

CV
Personal Website
Google Scholar
michael_frank@brown.edu


 

Post-Doctoral Researchers

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Matthew Nassar

Personal Website
Publications

Ph.D., Neuroscience,
University of Pennsylvania, 2012

I am interested in how neuromodulators might allow cortical circuitry to facilitate different behavioral regimes in order to allow optimization across a broad array of environmental contexts. For example, one branch of my research investigates the role of catecholamines in adjusting the relative contributions of internal and external sources of information to improve learning and perception in dynamic environments. My research relies on detailed quantification of human behavior in cognitive and perceptual tasks, computational modeling, and indirect measurements of neural function such as fMRI, EEG, and pupillometry.

mattnassar@gmail.com

 

Andra Geana

Ph.D., Psychology & Neuroscience, Princeton University, 2015
B.S. Mathematics & B.S. Psychology, Brown University, 2010

I am working on computational models of human learning and decision processes, with a special focus on how people search for and select from available information to build accurate representations of the world. My work aims to understand how human information-seeking processes contribute to our daily decisions, and what the disruption of these processes in psychiatric disorders such as OCD and schizophrenia can tell us about the underlying neurobiology of decision-making.

andra_geana@brown.edu

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Andrew Westbrook

Ph.D., Psychology,
Washington University St. Louis, 2016
M.S.E.E., Environmental Scienes and Engineering,
Washington University St. Louis, 2012
M.S., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 2006
B.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2003

I am interested in decision-making about cognitive effort. In particular, I am interested in what role dopamine plays in learning costs and benefits and also translating instantaneous motivation into promoting or undermining cognitive control. When I am not investing cognitive effort in my work, I spend my time rock climbing, getting riled up about politics, and reading the news obsessively.

andrew.westbrook@brown.edu

 
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Arif Hamid

Ph.D., Neuroscience,
University of Michigan, 2016

Hometown: Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

I am interested in brain computations that underlie flexible behavioral-control and learning, specifically dopamine and basal-ganglia mechanisms for reward-learning and motivational vigor. I combine behavioral, experimental and modeling approaches for a systems investigation of the precise anatomical, temporal, and functional organization of decision-circuits in rodents.

Personal Website
Google Scholar Page

arif_hamid@brown.edu

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Mads Pedersen

Ph.D., Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Oslo, 2017
M.S., Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Oslo, 2012

I am interested in the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying decision making. To investigate these mechanisms I develop mathematical models of decision making and instrumental learning. My research focus is on applying these models to better understand decision processes in mental disorders such as ADHD.

mads_pedersen@brown.edu

 
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Rachel Rac-Lubashevsky

Ph.D., Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 2018.

I am interested in the controlled decision that guides working memory updating. More specifically, I am interested in the cognitive and physiological properties of this decision and how this voluntary decision to update is shaped by cognitive effort, reinforcement learning and sequential effects and what role dopamine plays in implementing this decision. I aim to combine behavioral experiments (such as working memory and cognitive control tasks) with EEG and eye-blink rate measures as well as with computational modeling to understand these questions.

rachel_ratz-lubashevsky@brown.edu


 

Graduate Students

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Prannath Moolchand

Co-Mentored by Stephanie Jones

Doctoral Candidate, Neuroscience
M.S., Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience,
University of Sheffield, 2012
B.E. (Honors), Mechatronics,
University of Mauritius, 2010

I am interested in theoretical neuroscience, using the computational neuroscience approach. I am working on a collaborative project between the Frank and the Jones labs, trying to combine Dr. Frank's high cognitive level model of the Basal Ganglia with Dr. Jones's lower level biophysical model of the thalamocortical loop. They seek to understand how the Basal Ganglia and Thalamocortical loops interact in both healthy and diseased conditions, with a particular focus on Parkinson's disease.

prannath_moolchand@brown.edu

 

Louis Gularte

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy
M.S. Candidate, Cognitive Science
M.A. Philosophy,
Northern Illinois University, 2013
B.A. Philosophy,
University of Notre Dame, 2008
B.A., Psychology,
University of Notre Dame, 2008

Hometown: Gonzales, CA

My work is on the nature of (dis)value and morality and how that interacts with the nature of suffering; my main interests are in metaethics and the philosophy of language and mind. In cognitive science, my hope is to get as clear as possible on the nature of suffering by looking at the interactions between negative affect on the one hand and reward learning and decision-making more broadly on the other.

lgularte@brown.edu

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Dan Scott

Doctoral Candidate
B.A. Physics & B.A. Mathematics,
UC Berkeley, 2011

Hometown: Orinda, CA

I research computation in biologically realistic neural networks with a focus on interactions between representation, dynamics and learning. Statistical and physical theories provide tools here, as well as model simulation and analysis of neural data. My research questions are motivated by needs in areas such as neural-engineering and computational psychiatry, as well as a general interest in theory.

daniel_scott@brown.edu

 

Harrison Ritz

Co-Mentored by Amitai Shenhav.

Doctoral Candidate
M.S., Psychology,
University of Western Ontario, 2016
B.S., Psychology,
Queen’s University, 2015

Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

My undergraduate and masters’ theses focused on the neural correlates of attentional control during auditory and speech perception. My current research interests are broadly about characterizing neural systems that dynamically control decision-making in noisy, unstable environments. In my free time, I like watching films, distance running, batch cooking, and creating or listening to music.

CV
harrison_ritz@brown.edu

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Guillaume Pagnier

Doctoral Candidate, Neuroscience
M.S., UMass Amherst, 2015
B.S., UMass Amherst, 2013

I would like to analyze the neural underpinnings of risky decision making and reward anticipation. I’m in the midst of determining the best way to accomplish this but I’m hoping to combine behavioral, neural, and computational techniques across species to study the functional circuits responsible for probabilistic decision making.

guillaume_pagnier@brown.edu

 
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Amrita Lamba

Co-Mentored by Oriel FeldmanHall.

Doctoral Candidate
M.A., Psychology,
College of William & Mary, 2017
B.S., Psychology,
University of Toronto, 2014

I am interested in examining socio-emotional decision-making and learning using the methodological rigor of computational modeling and neural network systems. I am also interested in using Bayesian and reinforcement learning models as a framework for modeling the cognitive processes associated with moral decision-making.

CV
amrita_lamba@brown.edu

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Alex Fengler

Doctoral Candidate
B.S., International Business
M.S., Neuroeconomics
MPhil, Statistics

Hometown: Bergheim, Germany

alexander_fengler@brown.edu

 

Alana Jaskir

Doctoral Candidate

B.A. Computer Science,
Princeton, 2017
Certificate in Cognitive Science,
Princeton, 2017

I am interested in computational models of human learning and decision-making. More specifically, I want to investigate how the brain learns structure and creates useful representations in order to generalize in new contexts. I hope to explore multiple levels of analysis, from biologically plausible neural networks to more abstract Bayesian and reinforcement learning models.

alana_jaskir@brown.edu

 

If you are interested in joining the lab as a graduate student,
apply via the Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences Department


 

Lab Manager

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Wasita Mahaphanit

B.S., Cognitive Neuroscience, Brown University, 2018

Hometown: Portland, ME

I am still trying to figure out what I am passionate about,
but lately I have been interested in social dynamics, confidence,
reinforcement learning, and information-processing. If I could find
a way to nicely combine all of these things together
with computational methods--possibly via social networks--
that would be the dream! Outside of the lab,
I like finding new music, painting,
and instructing/performing on the lyra.

wasita@brown.edu

 

 

Research Assistants

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Caroline Hunt

Bachelor's Candidate,
Cognitive Science

I am most interested in the neural networks associated with decision-making, particularly in situations with prolonged rewards. In my free time, I like to dance, watch Netflix, and learn languages.

 

Juan Muneton Gallego

Bachelor's Candidate

I am a sophomore planning to concentrate in Cognitive Neuroscience. I am mostly interested in working memory and brain damage, particularly computational methods that simulate different cognitive processes. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, traveling, listening to music, and roller skating

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Rob Chambliss

Bachelor's Candidate

Information on Rob is forthcoming.

If you are motivated, hard-working, and interested in learning more about decision-making, learning, and working memory from an experimental standpoint, consider joining our lab.
Please contact our lab manager Wasita or Dr. Frank.


 

Alumni and Collaborators

Alumni

Andrea Mueller, B.S.
(Former Laboratory Manager)

Nicholas Franklin, Ph.D.
(Former Doctorate Student; Postdoctoral Researcher, Harvard University)

Anne Collins, Ph.D.
(Former Postdoctoral Researcher; Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley)

James F. Cavanagh, Ph.D.
(Former Postdoctoral Researcher; Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico)

Ahmed Moustafa, Ph.D.
(Former Postdoctoral Researcher; Senior Lecturer, Western Sydney University)

Mike X. Cohen, Ph.D.
(Former Postdoctoral Researcher; Assistant Professor, Radboud University Medical Centre & Donders Institute for Neuroscience)

Jeffrey Cockburn, Ph.D.
(Fromer Ph.D. Student; Postdoctoral Researcher, CalTech)

Thomas Wiecki, Ph.D.
(Fromer Ph.D. Student; Lead Data Scientist, Quantopian Inc.)

Bradley Doll, Ph.D.
(Former Ph.D. Student; Senior Data Scientist, Dotdash & The Daily Beast)

Julie Helmers, B.S.
(Former Lab Manager; M.S. Candidate in Data Science, NYU)

Sean Masters, B.S.
(Former Laboratory Manager; M.D. Candidate, Central Michigan University)

Hyeyoung Shin, Ph.D.
(Former Ph.D. Student; Brown University)

Danne Elbers
(Former Visiting Masters Student Vrije Universiteit)

Rasmus Bruckner
(Former Visiting Masters Student, Humboldt-Universität)

Christina Figueroa, B.S.
(Former Laboratory Manager; Ph.D. Candidate, Marquette University)

Shikhar Kumar
(Former Graduate Student, University of Arizona)

 

Medical Collaborators

Wael Asaad, MD, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Brown University Medical School

Joseph Friedman, MD
Clinical Professor, Dept. of Clinical Neuroscience, Brown University Medical School

Scott J. Sherman, MD, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor of Neurology University of Arizona College of Medicine

Former Research Assistants

Sara Slama
Benjamin Gold
Emily Nguyen
Rob St. Louis
Ian Eisenberg
Angad Kochar
Carissa Aboubakare
Jacklyn Babowitch
Daniel Valmas
Alison Mullin
Robin Martens
Anuj Patel
Joseph DeJonge
Hans Pope
Julia Rothschild
Wenting Xie
Anthony Jang
Ezra Nelson
Giovanna Moraes
Nicholas Handfield-Jones
Michelle Kulowski
Nicole Bilbo
Claire Hernon
Adi Melamed
Patrick LaChance
Ji Sun (Julia) Kim
Anish Aitharaju
Ameyo Attila
Neille-Ann (Neilly) Tan
Huangqi Jiang 蒋黄麒
Sarah Master
Caleb Thomas
Hazem Abbas
Hassiet Asberom
Milena Rmus
Timothy (Jack) LeClair