Associate Professor of Neural Science Roozbeh Kiani was recognized by The Pew Charitable Trusts' Innovation Fund for his research on decision making. Founded in 2017, the Innovation Fund promotes collaborative biomedical research across the United States and Latin America. Twelve scientists were recognized with the distinction this year.
Kiani's research focuses on perceptual and mnemonic decision-making, or discovering what occurs in the brain and nervous system every time a decision is made. His work over the years has helped advance the mapping of neuron clusters and has increased our understanding of the effect both time and confidence have on decision making. Specifically, the Kiani Lab studies the role of the parietal cortex, basal ganglia, and prefrontal cortex in decision making and probability reasoning.
As part of the Innovation Fund’s focus on collaboration, Pew pairs investigators from different universities together for a joint research project. Kiani is partnering with Baylor College of Medicine’s Nuo Li. Li is an associate professor of neuroscience whose research focuses on the neural circuits involved in planning and executing voluntary body movements.
Together, Kiani and Li's Pew-funded research will explore what happens in the brain on a neural level when we change our minds. This research will build on Kiani’s study of decision making principles and Li’s work on the neural circuits involved in learning and memory. Kiani and Li will develop a framework to model neural responses and pinpoint the moments subjects change their minds in order to discover which parts of the brain are involved in this process. Kiani and Li will also consider the effects of other factors leading to changing a decision, such as memories and sensory inputs.