Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Meet Marshall Hussain Shuler, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

Dr. Hussain Shuler represented early-career investigators and shared his amazing work at the briefing we co-hosted with ACS, "Investing in Our Future: A New Generation of Researchers."

He joined the Department of Neuroscience as an Associate Professor in 2008 after completing his post-doctoral research with Dr. Mark Bear at the Picower Institute for Learning Memory at MIT as a Howard Hughes fellow. He received a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Duke University, Durham NC in 2001, working in the laboratory of Miguel Nicolelis, having received a NRSA fellowship. He received a B.A. with distinction in Neuroscience from the University of Virginia, working with Dr. David Hill, where he was a Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Apprentice (1995).

Here is a brief description of what he told the audience about his work: The brain is particularly good at helping people adapt to their surroundings; and it rewards itself for learning new, more appropriate behaviors – a process called reinforcement learning.

At the Hussain Shuler laboratory, our job is to understand how that process works inside the network of the brain. We use an interdisciplinary approach that includes mapping neural activity, genomics, and behavior.

Little is known about how reinforcement learning works in the brain. Studying these processes will directly impact our understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and drug abuse.

Take a look at his power point presentation (slides 23-30) to see a really cool model used to study reinforcement learning.

This is part of the ongoing Profiling New Voices series.

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