My research at a glance
My research work by large can be categorized to translational neuroscience- especially linking computational, cognitive and neural spaces. And as I see, my research unites under the umbrella of understanding the neural, computational and cognitive basis of decision making. I pursue the principles of reinforcement learning along with machine learning techniques for my research. On the experimental end, I'm trained on single unit electrophysiology and am getting trained for EEG. A bit more on details here: In my PhD thesis with Profs. Srinivasa Chakravarthy and Balaraman Ravindran of Indian Institute of Technology- Madras, I tackled the problem of building a unified computationally model that reconciles the diverse functional roles of dopamine and serotonin neuromodulators, in the cortico-basal ganglia circuit, for the process of decision making. Their functions range from controlling of the appetitive and aversive sensations, to reward and risk based decisions, to controlling of appetite, to circulation- thus their functions extend beyond the brain. My thesis was focused on their brain functions including the control over the sensitivity of reward and risk based decisions, time scale of predictions used for decisions, and the reward-punishment sensitivity bias. I could apply my model to build an integrative understanding for multiple Parkinson’s Disease symptoms- freezing of gait, increased precision grip due to medication, increased reward sensitivity and impulsivity while on-medication, and increased punishment sensitivity while off-medication. At this point of time, I got so much interested towards running experiments and working out my theories- fortunately, I got to do that in my postdoctoral research work. During my first postdoctoral research period with Prof. Benjamin Hayden at University of Rochester, I focused on understanding the shared neural correlates between economic decision making and executive stopping, using single unit electrophysiology in macaques. I enjoyed using my computational modeling skillset to decode neural responses from orbitofrontal cortices. This project is interesting because it tries to unify the classically divided executive and reward functions- at the level of neurons, brain structures and also scientist groups!!!! In my second postdoctoral research period with Profs. John Foxe and Ed Freedman at the university of Rochester, I worked towards setting up of a new EEG experimental rig for studying the neurophysiology cognitive-motor interactions using mobile brain / body imaging during dual-task based decisions. I provided the asset of bringing in computational approaches to analyse the neural markers contributing to the control of cognitive and motor processing, as subject progresses from healthy to cognitively impaired; I especially focussed on the Rett dataset available in the lab. Now, I'm all excited to jump into my last leg of postdoctoral research at Neural Engineering and Translational Labs at University of California- SanDiego; I'm teaming with Drs. Jyoti Mishra and Dhakshin Ramanathan. I'll be working towards enhancing cognitive brain computer interfaces with the data collected from a community setting, by building efficient computational models that extract neuro-cognitive states of mental illness in real-time.