Victoria Shavina

PhD Student
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I have two Master's degrees: one in military engineering and another in mathematics (University of Trento).
The main focus of my work at INI is to understand the neural mechanisms underlying decisions. A decision can be defined as a choice made between alternative courses of action in a situation of uncertainty. In our lab we study perceptual decisions, which are fairly fast, driven by sensory stimuli and modulated by goals of the subject and contextual influences. They are simple, but they allow us to examine the interaction of these different factors.
Many studies have investigated the neural mechanisms of perceptual decision-making. They have developed powerful models that can capture the choice behavior (e.g. race to bound, integration to bound) and identified the neural correlates of the putative decision process, meaning neural signals that represent the internal variables of these models.
However, it remains unknown how these neural signals emerge from a collective activity of large networks of neurons. The main goal of my project is to address this issue. First, by developing a novel behavioral paradigm, which builds on past decision-making studies, but overcomes the limitations of previous paradigms. Second, by using this paradigm in combination with large scale recordings in behaving primates to elucidate the neural population mechanism underlying decisions.
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