University of Oxford, United Kingdom
The ability to adapt quickly to novel tasks and environments is a hallmark of intelligent behaviour. Humans are remarkably proficient at this, due to their capacity to relate existing knowledge to experience. For instance, when traveling abroad, we can work out how to use a train ticket machine that we have not seen before using our knowledge of similar machines.
I want to understand the brain mechanisms that allow us to form flexible mental programmes that can be redeployed under different circumstances. Combining brain recordings with pattern classification techniques, I will study the rapid formation of knowledge in the prefrontal cortex as humans learn to perform novel categorisation tasks.
This work will reveal fundamental biological mechanisms that underlie complex goal-directed behaviour. It will also provide new insights that will help us build more intelligent machines.