The number of neurons in the human brain is vast, but the number of thoughts they can collectively encode is much larger still. You can understand the sentences "The strongest man in Iceland learned to play bassoon at the Sorbonne" or "The robot with a mustache can't make a free-throw", even though you've never heard anyone say these particular things, or thought them yourself.
I study how the brain flexibly combines familiar ideas to compose complex thoughts. And how it then uses these thoughts as fodder for reasoning and decision-making. These are central mental operations, but we have little idea how they are executed by the brain.
Working with Josh Greene, I have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), intracranial recording of neural activity, and computational modeling to study how the brain understands language, thinks, and reasons. I'm also interested in developing analytic methods for better tracking information flow through the brain.
Here is some press coverage of our work.
I'm currently a post-doc, working with Jon Cohen at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. I received my PhD. from Harvard, with Josh Greene and Susan Carey as advisors. Prior to graduate school, I worked as a research assistant at the University of Pennsylvania with Sharon Thompson-Schill, and studied Philosophy and Psychology at the College of Wooster in Ohio.