Current Projects

How does reward influence memories?

This study investigates how monetary reward can influence learning and memory. I devised the study design with my advisor, Dr. Lila Davachi. Additionally, I created the stimulus presentation and analysis scripts in MATLAB, and am currently collecting data. This study is being run in the Davachi Memory Lab.


Past Projects

How do neuropeptides affect social cognition?

This study investigated how the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin affect neural and behavioral responses to a battery of tasks involving social cognition. We are also interested in seeing how various self-report and genetic individual difference measures influence these responses.
My role in this study included creating the experimental scripts for many of the tasks using PsychToolbox in MATLAB, running the fMRI sessions, and analyzing the neuroimaging data with SPM8. We are currently analyzing data for this study, which was run in Matthew Lieberman's Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at UCLA.

Can brain activity predict future behaviors?

This study utilized two methodologies, fMRI and fNIRS, to measure brain activity while participants view persuasive messages about a certain topic. We are interested in seeing how different patterns of brain activity can predict changes in behavior. This was the first study in the lab to utilize our new fNIRS device. fNIRS, or functional near-infrared spectroscopy, is a portable, lightweight device that uses infrared light to measure changes in brain activity under the surface of the skull.
My role in this multi-part study included creating the experimental scripts and audio stimuli, running fMRI and fNIRS sessions, and analyzing the fMRI and fNIRS data using SPM8 and Homer2, respectively. The findings of our fMRI experiment were published in the journal Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience in 2016 (doi: 10.1093/scan/nsw113). This study was run in Matthew Lieberman's Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at UCLA.

How does feedback influence learning over the course of development?

This study investigated how positive and negative feedback influences learning during adolescence and adulthood. We used fMRI to measure how the brain, particularly the striatum, reacts to feedback and whether this changes over the course of development
This project was conducted in Dr. Adriana Galvan's ULCA Developmental Neuroscience Lab. In addition to working full-time in Dr. Lieberman's lab, I also volunteered my time on this study. My role on this project included running adolescents (age 11-15) through an fMRI paradigm. 

Why and how does prior testing improve future memory performance?

This behavioral study investigated the testing effect, a phenomenon in which a preliminary memory test improves performance on a followup memory test. We were interested in seeing how subjective memory strength for items during an initial test influences memory for those items when tested again.
My role in this study included creating the experimental scripts, running the behavioral sessions, analyzing the data using Excel and SPSS, and writing up my findings for my honors thesis. This study was run in David Badre's Cognitive Neuroscience of Cognitive Control and Memory Lab at Brown University.

How can feedback influence memory decisions?

This study investigated how false positive feedback during a memory test can shift the decision criterion for determining whether a test item is "old" or "new." Multiple behavioral studies demonstrated that the decision criterion can be experimentally manipulated such that people become more liberal (saying "old" more often) or conservative (saying "new" more often). A follow-up fMRI experiment revealed that the frontal pole and caudate are involved in implementing this criterion shift. The findings of this paper were published in Nature Communications in 2016 (doi:10.1038/ncomms13061). This study was run in David Badre's Cognitive Neuroscience of Cognitive Control and Memory Lab at Brown University.