Principal Investigator

Matt Nassar

Matt is interested in how the brain processes information to facilitate intelligent behavior in complex and dynamic environments. He did his PhD with Josh Gold and post-docs with Joe Kable and Michael Frank before joining the Department of Neuroscience at Brown in January 2019.

Matt teaches: NEUR1660 Neural Computation in Learning and Decision-Making


ResearchGate profile

Lab Managers / Research Assistants 

Sienna Bruinsma

Sienna is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley, where she worked with Rich Ivry to investigate the functional role of the cerebellum in language. Recently, she has been particularly interested in the structural factors that aid short- versus long-term credit assignment. Her broad research interests lie in exploring the computational and neural mechanisms of learning and decision-making processes, with a particular emphasis on disentangling the differential effects of timing and contextual factors across and between (clinical and non-clinical) individuals. 

Email: | ORCID page

Xufeng (Caesar) Dai

Caesar is a recent graduate of Haverford College, where he studied computer science and math. He has research experience in machine learning, computational neuroscience, and computational geometry. He is super excited to learn more about our brain!


Harrison Marble

Harry is a recent graduate of Brown University with a concentration in neuroscience. Currently he’s part of a project that is investigating how latent state transitions are involved in learning, bias and arousal. In his free time he enjoys sleeping in, watching a concerning amount of Survivor, and giving epic karaoke performances.


Post-Doctoral Researchers

Daniel Scott

Dan researches how synaptic plasticity supports reinforcement learning in cortico-subcortical networks, and he is broadly interested in neuromodulation, microcircuit function, and structure learning. He approaches these topics from computational and algorithmic standpoints with Matt, and plans on developing close collaborations with systems neuroscientists as well. Previously, he completed his Ph.D. under the supervision of Michael J. Frank, examining the properties of three-factor learning rules and demonstrating that they are mathematically consistent with a wide range of inductive biases. Earlier still, he completed an M.Sc in applied mathematics, and undergraduate degrees in physics and math at U.C. Berkeley. Outside of work, he is a shameless partisan of Western states’ wildernesses.

Flora Bouchacourt

Flora is interested in computational modeling, and analysis of behavior and neural data, to investigate the mechanisms of task learning and working memory. After a MSc in Physics at Ecole Polytechnique in France, she did her PhD in Ecole Normale Superieure with Srdjan Ostojic in collaboration with Etienne Koechlin. She went to Princeton for her first postdoc with Tim Buschman and Nathaniel Daw.

Ph.D. Students

Niloufar Razmi

Niloufar is a neuroscience grad student. She received her M.D. in Iran and is interested in the computational processes in the brain.

Caroline Mclaughlin

Caroline recently obtained her master’s in Biomedical Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she investigated aberrant forward thinking in addiction. She is mainly interested in exploring the neural correlates and computational mechanisms of decision-making.

Abdullah P. Rashed Ahmed

Abdullah is a graduate student with Matt and Thomas Serre studying the mechanisms governing changepoint detection across multiple features, and how they interact, with a focus on visual features.

Joonhwa Kim

Joonhwa graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Cognitive Science w/ a Computing specialization and a B.A. in Linguistics & Philosophy, where she worked with Jesse Harris on language processing, Hongjing Liu on computational vision & learning, and Hakwan Lau on consciousness & metacognition. She then worked as a full-time lab manager with Amitai Shenhav exploring questions of cognitive control and value-based decision making. She is broadly interested in using computational cognitive neuroscience methods to study and characterize how people flexibly learn and apply knowledge of the world, particularly in uncertain and/or novel environments. Outside of the lab, she loves reading, music, being outside, and trying out new things & exploring new places.

Masters Students

Qin He

Qin’s research interests revolve around adaptive learning, structural learning, and reinforcement learning, with a particular focus on understanding how our learning and memory influence decision-making process. He explores the development of intelligent agents capable of adjusting their actions based on new observations and prior memories through a feedback loop mechanism. His overarching objective is to refine computational models inspired by the human brain, particularly from a control theory perspective. Scheduled to earn his M.Sc. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Brown University in May 2024, he previously obtained his undergraduate degree in Control System and Automation from ECUST in China. Outside of work, he is a dedicated basketball enthusiast who enjoys hiking and travelling.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Timothy Chen

Timothy is currently a rising sophomore from the Los Angeles area majoring in Neuroscience at Brown. He’s especially interested in studying how the brain encodes for learning and how it changes as we encounter new environments and situations. Outside of academics, Timothy enjoys playing classical and jazz saxophone and is an avid baseball fan.

Jane Baker

Jane is a sophomore planning on concentrating in neuroscience. Jane is also interested in math and want to learn more about making and analyzing computational models for the brain. In her free time, she enjoys playing sports with friends and watching her favorite shows (like Breaking Bad).

Aislinn Baxter

Aislinn is a junior double concentrating in cognitive science and international and public affairs. She is broadly interested in decision making sciences, but also in computational modeling, language, and category learning. She enjoys watching Criminal Minds, practicing aikido, and drinking iced coffee.

Lab Alumni

Post-doctoral researchers
      • Linda Yu
Graduate students
      • Harrison Ritz
      • Ryan Thorpe (NSGP rotation student)
      • Adit Sabnis (NSGP rotation student)
Lab Managers
      • Tiantian Li
Undergraduate research assistants
      • Aigerim Akhmetzhanova
      • Jon Kim
      • Sophie Kush
      • Linghai Liu
      • Meera Singh
      • Erin Bugbee
      • Martin Contreras Carrera
      • Kaitlyn Mi
      • Katie Unger
      • Jake Szykowny
      • Aansh Shah
      • Charlene Wang