Aaron Bornstein is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, where he is affiliated with the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and the Center for Theoretical Behavioral Sciences. His lab’s work investigates how behavior optimally adapts to experience and context at multiple timescales and across the lifespan. His professional aspiration is to contribute to the critical examination of concepts of psychological and biological normativity.
Outside of the lab, he has taught high school in Jerusalem and college in US federal prison; both included some of the best students he will ever know.
He is originally from New York, and spent time in Boston and San Francisco before settling in his current home of Los Angeles, where he enjoys being an incongruous pedestrian and living at the service of his two cats.
Sharon Noh received her Bachelor’s degree in psychobiology at UCLA and her Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience at UT Austin.
Her research interests lie in identifying and understanding the conditions that improve long term learning and decision-making across the lifespan.
She is currently working on various projects investigating how memory processes influence planning and decision-making in older and younger adults using neuroimaging (fMRI) and computational modeling techniques.
Dale Zhou received Bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park and a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. He is interested in how the brain network compresses and reconstructs information as network structure changes across the lifespan. He aims to account for computations of memory and reward as network functions of dimensionality reduction and expansion using experimental, naturalistic, and clinical data. Outside of the lab, Dale enjoys reading, movies, and urging his cat to practice gratitude. He shares a birthday with Elvis and David Bowie, so dutifully carries out their musical legacy with the violin, guitar, and throat-singing.
Nora received her B.A. in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley where she researched learning and decision-making with Anne Collins. After graduating, she worked with Marina Bedny at Johns Hopkins examining neuroplasticity in blind individuals.
She’s interested in how memory-guided decision-making changes across development and how early life experiences influence individuals’ susceptibility for substance use disorders, anxiety, and depression later in life.
Outside of the lab, Nora enjoys knitting, cooking, and bad reality tv.
Jungsun graduated from Sungkyunkwan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Philosophy. She obtained her M.Sc. degree in Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience from the Free University of Berlin, where she investigated the behavioral and neural interaction of domain-specific memory and value at the Heekeren Lab. She also worked as an AI researcher in the Computational Health Informatics Laboratory at the Asan Medical Center where she led research on explainable AI.
In the CCN Lab, Jungsun is currently working on memory-guided reinforcement learning in humans, and in particular, how people employ online planning in various contexts. Jungsun’s academic goal is to bridge the gap between learning mechanisms in biological and artificial agents.
Outside of the lab, Jungsun is an amateur violist and loves participating in ensembles such as quartets or orchestras. She is also fascinated by various programming languages.
Ari obtained a B.S. in Psychology with a second major in Philosophy from Boston College, where they researched episodic memory with Maureen Ritchey. Then, they moved to Duke University, where they researched counterfactual thinking with Felipe De Brigard and worked as Program Coordinator for the Summer Seminars in Neuroscience and Philosophy. At UCI, Ari is jointly advised by Aaron Bornstein and Megan Peters. Their research uses computational modeling and neuroimaging to characterize the effects of long-term memory on perceptual decisions, with a focus on how subjective confidence in each evidence source modulates their integration. Outside of lab, Ari enjoys spending time in nature, hanging out with their cat, and daydreaming about (nearby) possible worlds.
Alexa obtained her B.S. in cognitive neuroscience at UC Davis. After graduating she worked with Timothy Hanks at UC Davis studying perceptual decision-making. Following this she worked with Manish Saggar at Stanford researching brain dynamics through topological data analysis. Alexa is interested in the neural mechanisms of memory-guided decision-making, particularly with respect to navigating graph-structured spaces. Outside the lab she enjoys reading, art, and being outdoors.
Mohit received his B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Texas, Austin where he researched learning and decision-making with Dr. Alison Preston, Dr. Sharon Noh, and Dr. Christine Coughlin. He previously worked on a number of projects investigating decision-making and learning in older and younger adults using neuroimaging (fMRI) and computational modeling techniques.
After graduating, he chose to further explore his passions and interests in research. He’s interested in learning more about how decision making is effected by age, and the conditions of learning and decision-making across ones lifespan that could be improved.
Outside the lab, Mohit enjoys reading running, chess, and yelping!
Yifei received her B.A. in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley, where she designed psychophysical experiments to investigate how people adapt and learn with various forms of feedback. Following graduation, she decided to further explore her interest in human decision-making processes, specifically how and why people make certain decisions in different contexts, before pursuing grad school. Outside the lab, Yifei enjoys visiting museums, painting, and editing her cat’s pictures.
My name is Melisa Azimihashemi, I am in my 4th year as a cognitive science major. My research interests are primarly focused on the brain and how the it works. I am intrigued by the different factors that can influence our memory and decision making process. I am also interested in the development of the brain and how it ages over time.
My name is Yiting (Vessa) Shi, and I am a junior student majoring in Psychology, minoring in Biological Sciences. I am interested in many areas of psychology, but my favorite and also my research interest is people’s motivation and decision making, especially the reasons behind their decisions and how the decisions would affect their relationship with other people.
My name is Ami Yamamoto, an upcoming Junior double majoring in Psychology B.S. and Criminology, Law, and Society. My research interest is anything based on decision making and motivation. I am particularly interested in anger management and emotional control in individuals. I want to understand the difference between people who act upon their emotions and those who do not.
Meet our lab mascot, Ch-ch-ch-chewie!
Gloria received her bachelors degree, with Honors, in Cognitive Sciences at UC Irvine in June 2023. She then moved on to work as a lab manager at Stanford University. Her research interests focus on how people make decisions to optimize reward based on their memory of previous decisions. In the outside world, Gloria enjoys baking new recipes and spending time with her cat, Oligarchy.
Briana Coleman finished her Bachelors degree in 2022! She was a Campuswide Honors undergraduate student in Dr. Bornstein’s lab at the University of California, Irvine. Her interests lie in learning how anxiety can affect an individual’s decision-making, and how this relationship is modulated by socioeconomic and demographic factors. Outside the lab, Briana enjoys reading books and training in Mixed Martial Arts including Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Tommie received his Bachelor of Science degree in Cognitive Sciences, with Honors, at the University of California, Irvine. His research interests are in the domain of memory and decision-making. More specifically, he wants to learn how people use their memory to represent the structure of their environments, and how they use that structure to guide their decisions. In his free time, Tommie enjoys the outdoors, plays and follows basketball, and builds custom keyboards. You can catch him hiking with his dog Milo or rooting for his favorite NBA team (go Lakers!).
Brianna Sarcos graduated from UC Irvine in 2020 with a major in Psychology and minor in Biological Sciences. She then worked as a post-bacc research assistant at Yale Medical School, and will begin her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Temple University in Fall 2023. She is interested in examining the impact of early life adversity on neurocognitive development to promote engagement in maladaptive behaviors. She has a specific interest in exposure to violence and the ways in which it alters neurocognitive processes (e.g, emotion regulation, learning, and memory) to result in violent/aggressive behaviors. In her free time, Brianna enjoys watching True Crime, traveling, and hanging out with her dog, Pork Chop.
Sanaa is a third-year undergraduate psychology major with a minor in neuroscience at Texas A&M University. She is interested in the underlying mechanisms of executive functions and how adverse life events and racial demographics influence them. She wants to understand how trauma and race-based stress affect processes like decision-making and planning in order to highlight the biological severity of discrimination.