I'm a full-time Research Associate in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley researching human cognition, perception, and neuroplasticity in the Silver lab.
  • Neuroplasticity: How the mind can change for the better

    I’m very interested in studying the effects of meditation on the brain.
  • Philosophical Cognitive Science

    Study of Consciousness, the Mind-Body Problem, and other old, but terribly exciting unsolved questions.
  • Intersection of Neuroscience and Industry

    Creating practical therapies and applications of neuroscience research.
  • President of the Cognitive Science Student Association
  • President of the M.T.O. Sufi Association® at U.C. Berkeley
  • Co-founder of the California Cognitive Science Conference, and Chair Director for three years
  • Co-founder and facilitator of the Berkeley Review of CogSci Articles (BRoCA) course at U.C. Berkeley
  • Awarded the UCB Academic Opportunity Fund to attend and present at the Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego, CA in 2010.
  • Co-founder of the Interfaith Action Conference at U.C. Berkeley and 2010-2011 Interfaith Action Initiative Fellow.
  • Received the Award for Student Leadership Excellence from the Alameda County School Board Association as the youngest Student Trustee elected to date
  • Received the U.C. Berkeley Dean’s Team Award for Leadership Excellence
  • Received the U.C. Berkeley Cognitive Science Program’s Award in Recognition for Outstanding Initiative (Cognitive Science Student Association)


Top questions in science plaguing my mind....

  1. What is consciousness? What is a thought, and how does it catalyze action?
  2. Mind/Body problem (O CogSci, you had me at Descartes!)
  3. How does the brain change? How much control do we have over its change?
  4. Quantum Consciousness
  5. The intersection of neuroscience and spiritual experience
  6. How can meditation change the brain and open new doors in therapeutic neuroscience?



If I'm not in lab or at home, you'll most likely find me....

  1. Eating CTM @ House of Curries
  2. Drinking a Latte @ Cafe Milano
  3. Studying @ Free Speech Movement Cafe
  4. Feeling cozy @ Mission Coffee
  5. Meditating @ 5101 Tolman Hall
  6. Indulging @ Elmwood Cafe & Ici

Under Construction... this page will be dedicated to showcasing exciting papers, interesting articles, and general information about cognitive science.

  • What is Cognitive Science?


    Since Cognitive Science is such a new and budding field (with official origins stemming from the 1970's), I find myself explaining what it is quite often. I love it more every time I do.


    Cognitive Science is the study of mind from the perspective of a variety of disciplines including but not limited to the fields below. Being a Cognitive Science student at UC Berkeley allowed me to take a wonderful array of courses since CogSci is an interdisciplinary discipline. I go on to explain what kinds of ideas, people, and research fall under each branch of CogSci so that it's not a meaningless list of vague disciplines, but by no means is this an exhaustive list—just what comes to my mind when I cogitate of the elegant, collaborative weave of study and pursuit of knowledge that is Cognitive Science.

    For a well-written and comprehensive introduction to Cognitive Science, check out Mind as machine: a history of cognitive science, Volume 1 by Margaret A. Boden, 2006.

  • Neuroscience

    The study of how the brain gives rise to our cognition (Our thoughts, goals, behaviors, perceptions, etc.).

    Studying brain regions, neurochemicals, and connectivity of neural networks.

    Common methods of study: fMRI/MRI, EEG, PET, TMS, ECog, DTI (We are big fans of acronyms in neuroscience if you haven't noticed!), pharmacology, genetic testing, behavioral testing, and just plain digging in (neuroanatomy) etc.

    Historically, different parts of the brain have been known to control different aspects of our lives (like speech, motor control, sight, etc.). A hard-lined view of this in which every human behavior has a designated area in the brain is a theory called 'localization' that is becoming obsolete in modern day neuroscience.

  • ..more..

    The brain along with the rest of the human body is an integrated and cohesive unit; working as one in order to provide the full spectrum of a conscious experience. In other words, the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

    Modern day neuroscience is showing us that the brain works in what are called neural networks, groups of neurons that have formed together to form channels throughout the brain. It is through these channels that different parts of the brain communicate with each other and allow you to do things like smell a flower, recognize the beautiful scent and categorize it as pleasant, turn to your friend, smile and say "I love roses."

    The CogSci major at Cal: We are required to take two courses directly studying the brain and cognition. As a student specializing in neuroscience, you can delve into great courses taught by some of the best faculty on campus including Brain Mind and Behavior, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Human Neuropsychology.

  • ..even more

    Intersection of Neuro and Philosophy: The seemingly never-ending plight for the NCC (the neural correlate of consciousness). Neuroscientists like myself, dream of the day of finding "that one neural network or "that one brain area near that other area no one studies" that is the catalyst and the cause behind human consciousness. On the other hand, just like an epic romance or meatloaf, the mystery and complexity of consciousness is half the fun (well, about 20% on bad days and 55% on good ones).

  • Psychology



    Psychology is the original study of the mind.



    Psychology= Psych + Ology

    The word Psyche, which was the original focus of study of psychology, comes from the Ancient Greek ψυχή, which means soul or breath. And of course, ology also comes from the Ancient Greek suffix, -λογία, which means study in this context. Looking at modern day psychology, it is a far cry from the holistic study of the human spirit that it originally was.

  • ...more...

    A great deal of Cognitive Science research stems from paradigms and mysteries of the mind that the field of psychology has discovered.


    Some of the greats…

    William James, the Father of Psychology, introduced the stream of consciousness.

    Wilhelm Wundt, Father of Experimental Psychology, created the first laboratory to study psychology and emphasized that we must focus on only the physical, observable traits of the human.

    Psychology went from studying the soul to proposing the non-existence and epiphenomenon of the "psyche"/soul.

    J.B. Watson and Behaviorism: Essentially implied no mind as we know it and that everything is a practiced habit/behavior.

  • ...even more

    George Miller: The capacity of our mind: How much can you hold in your brain-bag at once? 7 is the lucky number…

    Gave rise to great developments like the theory of "chunking" information to remember it and memorize it easier (like in a phone number). I also love to say, "chunking." Go ahead, say it, you know you want to.

    Carl Jung

  • Philosophy



    Well, let's be honest, philosophy started everything. Before there was the study of anything, there must have been a desire to know.



    Philosophy= Philo + Sophia, both from Ancient Greek, meaning love (Philo) of wisdom (Sophia).


    Some of the greats…

    Plato

    Socrates

    Aristotle

    Descartes

    Berkeley

    Kant

    John Searle (I had the pleasure of taking all of his undergrad classes and working with him closely during my first 2 years at Cal)


  • Computer science

    Are brains like computers? This is a question that is one of the defining pillars of Cognitive Science.

    Turing Machine (Alan Turing) Is cognition binary? (1's and 0's)

    Searle's controversial Chinese Room Argument

    The difference between syntax and semantics

    This question isn't asked so directly anymore, but strands of it interweave lovingly into most current computational neuroscience. As with most things, we come to realize that it's not so black and white. There are theories, evidence, and models of cognition that fall on a spectrum between these traditional views, and we just don't know enough yet to stop oscillating between the many perspectives.

  • ....more...

    Some of the greats…

    John McCarthy: Father of Lisp

    Marvin Minsky: Artificial Intelligence starts to become a reality

    John Von Neumann: Logic, set theory, game theory, author of "The Computer and the Brain," and the development of the Von Neumann Machine, the digital computer

    Allen Newell

    Herbert Simon

    Alan Turing: Questions like, "What does it mean for a task to be computed?" led to the Turing Machine—one of the most significant corner stone's of cognitive science.

  • ...even more

    Computational Models of Cognition/Artificial Intelligence

    The CogSci major at Cal: Requires us to take a course in either Computational modeling or Artificial Intelligence (the latter being in the CompSci dept. and requiring more background in coding). The Computational Models of Cognition course uses Matlab to traverse many different types of modeling of cognition intermixed with great historical information about the study of cognition.


    Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

    As a CogSci major at Cal: We take CS61a in which (at least back in my day) we learn Scheme, a simple yet powerful lisp language that is great for teaching the syntax and semantics of computer science. It's not really good for anything else.

  • Linguistics

    Intro to Linguistics

    Mind and Language

    Noam Chomsky

    John Searle

    George Lakoff

  • ....more...

  • ...even more

  • Anthropology

    Tribute must be paid and study must be conducted about how it all started.

  • ....more...

  • ...even more

  • Social Science

  • ....more...

  • ...even more

 

 

 
 
 
 
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I'm a full-time Research Associate in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley conducting research to further understanding of human cognition, perception, and neuroplasticity.

I work in the Silver lab with a slew of amazing people doing research in… Psychophysics and perceptual learning in the context of behavioral pharmacology of the cholinergic and dopaminergic systems as they relate to neuroplasticity.

I'm specifically working on projects studying surround suppression, texture detection, spatial spread, and perceptual learning with fMRI.

I am beginning leadership of a self-designed experiment that studies the perceptual learning of orientation specific surround suppression with cholinergic enhancement. Silver and D'Esposito Lab Collaborative Project: Managing data collection in behavioral-pharmacology studies that aim to observe the top-down behavioral and psychophysical changes that take place when inducing changes in levels of both dopamine and acetylcholine.

One of my biggest passions is meditation and spreading awareness of the positive benefits of meditation. I help facilitate a course on meditation and spirituality through the Cognitive Science Dept. at UC Berkeley with over 100 students enrolling every semester.

My goal is to conduct research on the potential for self-motivated cognitive and neural change that can take place as a result of regular meditation.

I have lots of energy. So, outside of neuroscience research, I've started a small company called Amoeba Teams.

Amoeba Teams provides business development services such as web development, drafting business plans, fundraising, marketing, and general guidance to start-ups, businesses looking for further development, individuals and professionals wanting to boost their career, and for initiatives and groups looking for guidance with development, financial management, web presence, etc.

Why Amoeba? Amoebas are best known for their ability to change shape, and that is exactly what makes Amoeba Teams unique. Depending on the needs and ambitions of each client, project, or business, different professionals in various fields will be gathered to essentially "customize" your development experience. The value of Amoeba Teams comes from the specialists working on what they inherently love to do, giving the lowest price for exactly what they do best and nothing more.

We are currently working on 3 different projects ranging from an academic institution's new online publication model for scientific literature to a social networking website for engineers.

When: June 2011 – Present

Where: Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute: Silver Lab, UC Berkeley

What: I'm a full-time Research Associate in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley conducting research to further understanding of human cognition, perception, and neuroplasticity.

I'm a full-time Research Associate in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley conducting research to further understanding of human cognition, perception, and neuroplasticity.

I work in the Silver lab with a slew of amazing people doing research in… Psychophysics and perceptual learning in the context of behavioral pharmacology of the cholinergic and dopaminergic systems as they relate to neuroplasticity.

I'm specifically working on projects studying surround suppression, texture detection, spatial spread, and perceptual learning with fMRI.

I am beginning leadership of a self-designed experiment that studies the perceptual learning of orientation specific surround suppression with cholinergic enhancement. Silver and D'Esposito Lab Collaborative Project: Managing data collection in behavioral-pharmacology studies that aim to observe the top-down behavioral and psychophysical changes that take place when inducing changes in levels of both dopamine and acetylcholine.

When: January 2010-Present

Where: UC Berkeley and the Cloud

What: Founder and CEO, Amoeba Teams: Web Development and Business Management Company

I have lots of energy. So, outside of neuroscience research, I've started a small company called Amoeba Teams.

Amoeba Teams provides business development services such as web development, drafting business plans, fundraising, marketing, and general guidance to start-ups, businesses looking for further development, individuals and professionals wanting to boost their career, and for initiatives and groups looking for guidance with development, financial management, web presence, etc.

Why Amoeba? Amoebas are best known for their ability to change shape, and that is exactly what makes Amoeba Teams unique. Depending on the needs and ambitions of each client, project, or business, different professionals in various fields will be gathered to essentially "customize" your development experience. The value of Amoeba Teams comes from the specialists working on what they inherently love to do, giving the lowest price for exactly what they do best and nothing more.

We are currently working on 3 different projects ranging from an academic institution's new online publication model for scientific literature to a social networking website for engineers.

When: Aug 2009-Present

Where: UC Berkeley Cognitive Science Department

What: Co-founder and Instructor of two student-run UC Berkeley courses

The Tamarkoz: Sufi Meditation course exposes hundreds of students each semester to the stress management techniques and spiritual benefits of Tamarkoz.

The Berkeley Review of Cognitive Science Articles (BRoCA) introduces students with current cognitive science research and research methods.  

When: Nov. 2010 – Present

Where: Silver and D'Esposito Lab Collaborative Project, UC Berkeley

What: Research Assistant

Managing data collection in behavioral-pharmacology studies that aim to observe the top-down behavioral and psychophysical changes that take place when inducing changes in levels of both dopamine and acetylcholine.

When: October 2009-May 2011

Where: UC Berkeley

What: Executive Director and Co-founder, California Cognitive Science Conference (CCSC)


The seeds of the CCSC were sown during a conversation at the I-House Café in Berkeley among a few undergraduates. What unfolded in the months and years to follow has become of my most proud achievements.

Pioneered the idea for and managed the execution of the professional conference with attendance of 300-400 students, faculty, researchers, and neurologists from all over the world for three consecutive years with no advisor.

Selected and facilitated a diverse research poster session during the conference for students as well as external private research companies such as Happy Neuron, Mendeley, and Neurosky.

Utilized grant writing skills to accumulate a $20,000 budget that was managed responsibly including the handling of overseas transaction. Managed web development, professional graphic design, and marketing for the conference.

When: Aug. 2009 – ­May 2011

Where: D' Esposito Lab (Cognitive Neuroscience), UC Berkeley

What: Research Assistant


Directed data collection as well as interpretation and presentation of results for two experiments: One studying prefrontal networks and top-down processing and the other studying language and spatial categories (using transcranial magnetic stimulation and fMRI).

U.C. Berkeley Academic Opportunity Fund awarded to attend and present research findings at the Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego, CA in 2010. Presentation title: TMS induced deactivation of PFC alters category selectivity in extrastriate cortex.

When: Oct. 2007 – May 2011

Where: UC Berkeley

What: President, Cognitive Science Students Association (CSSA)


The CSSA was a huge part of my life during my undergraduate years at Cal.

Organized lectures, events, and conferences for between 80-400 students, UC and international faculty and researchers. While President, the CSSA hosted an event every other week.

Managed annual budget of $25,000 as well as merchandise sales.

Facilitated and hosted lectures, discussions, and debates on current issues in cognitive neuroscience.

Lead weekly meetings and facilitated healthy group dynamic while maintaining efficient productivity and the vision of the organization.

Elected Treasurer in 2008, elected Vice President in 2009, elected President in 2010.

When: Spring 2008

Where: UC Berkeley

What: Interview Editor; Berkeley Scientific Journal, UC Berkeley


Ability to be versatile in interest and knowledge in the field of scientific research.

Aptitude to speak comfortably and knowledgeably with prominent researchers and faculty.

When: Oct. 2006 – June 2007

Where: Ohlone College, Fremont CA

What: I took classes at my local community college junior high- high school. The last year before coming to Berkeley, it was a very rewarding and involved experience.


Some highlights:

Student Member Board of Trustees

Represented the student voice on the Board of Trustees of Ohlone College.

Elected by more than 1,000 students as the youngest student member of the Board of Trustees to date at age 17.

Provided advisory votes regarding city planning, college curriculum, culturally sensitive programs and movements, college admissions, allocation of $300,000 budget, etc., for the Alameda County District.


Awards

Alameda County School Board Association, Award for Student Leadership Excellence – 2008

Associated Students of Ohlone College, Officer of the Year – 2007


VP of Strategic Planning and VP of Communications; Alpha Gamma Sigma (Sigma Beta Chapter) Honor Society

--Alpha Gamma Sigma (Sigma Beta Chapter), Honor Society, Award of Academic Excellence

--Alpha Gamma Sigma (Sigma Beta Chapter), Honor Society, Award of Leadership Excellence


A.S.O.C. Liaison Officer; Ohlone Psychology Club

When: December 2, 1988

Where: Berkeley, Ca. Alta Bates Hospital

What: Born.


I grew up in the East Bay--Oakland and Fremont, Ca.—as the only child of two Persian immigrant parents. I learned English by the end of first grade and enjoyed an eclectic upbringing.

Relevant Research Training

National Institute of Health (NIH) Office of Extramural Research Course: Protecting Human Research Participants – 8/06/2010

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). Course: Human Research Curriculum for Responsible Conduct of Biomedical Research – 9/15/2010

UCSD Human Research Protections Program Certificate of Completion (HIPPA). Course: Research Aspects of HIPPA – 8/06/2010


Project/Research Grants and Scholarships

Received 26 separate project/research grants and scholarships totaling $43,750 over the course of undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley. Full list available upon request.


Awards:

UC Berkeley Departmental Recognition for Outstanding Initiative—awarded at graduation ceremony – 2011

UC Berkeley Dean's Team Award for Leadership – 2011