Posts classified under: Computational and Systems Neuroscience

Keith Holyoak, Ph.D.


Combining behavioral studies of normal cognition, computational modeling, and neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies, to understand the role of the prefrontal cortex in human thinking Keith J. Holyoak conducts research in human reasoning and problem solving. Much of his work is concerned with the role of analogy in thinking. One of the major themes of this work is the way in which analogy serves as a psychological mechanism for learning and transfer of knowledge. In his book Mental Leaps with Paul Thagard, he presents a general theory of analogical thinking that includes analysis of how the capacity to use analogy evolved in primates, how it develops in children, and how it is used to reason in domains ranging from law and politics to science. Other related reserach, in collaboration with Dan Simon, deals with complex decision-making in fields such as the law. Holyoaks research combines studies of thinking in normal adults with neuropsychological studies of how thinking in brain-damaged individuals. This work, in collaboration with Barbara Knowlton and others, is investigating the role of prefrontal cortex in complex human reasoning. In addition to experimental work, Holyoak works with John Hummel to develop computational models of human thinking based on neural-network models. These models use neural synchrony to preform dynamic variable binding, and thereby represent and maniputlate symbolic knowledge. The overall goal is to understand the neural basis for human thought.

Neil Harris, Ph.D.


Professor Harris directs NEIL lab with over 25 years of experience with rodent CNS injury models and in particular using MRI and PET to assess structure and function. He received his B.Sc. in Biology/Neuroscience from University of Portsmouth in 1988, and his Ph.D. in Physiology from King’s College London in 1991. Dr. Harris’s early focus of research addressed the question of optimal timing for intervention after the diagnosis of infantile hydrocephalus. Prior to joining University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Dr. Harris received training in multimodality imaging techniques, including PET, structural MRI, fMRI, DTI, and Glucose/blood-flow autoradiography at Kings college University of London, University of Florida McKnight Brain Institute, the Royal College of Surgeons unit of Biophysics in the Institute of Child Health, and University of Cambridge Department of Neurosurgery. Subsequently, Dr. Harris conducted studies to address forebrain ischemic stroke looking at the potential use of non-invasive biomarkers to determine salvageable areas of brain. The studies were cited amongst primary reported findings on biophysical mechanism of the change in water diffusion after stroke. Dr. Harris currently resides as Professor in Residence of UCLA Department of Neurosurgery where he primarily conducts investigations on Traumatic Brain Injury and is the scientific director of UCLA 7T animal imaging core.