The Troland Research Award was established by a trust created in 1931 by the bequest of Leonard T. Troland. Niv’s work has focused on how the brain sorts information, effectively parsing complex environments into relevant, bite-sized chunks that can be acted upon efficiently. With insights from the fields of statistics and machine learning, Niv is developing and testing computational models for how the brain learns what information is relevant to a task and what is a mere distractor, allowing the brain to create simplified representations of tasks that afford rapid solutions. With her colleagues, she has applied these theories to a range of phenomena from human decision making to animal conditioning. For instance, Niv has shown that understanding how the brain parses and represents tasks can help in designing interventions to permanently overwrite and remove unwanted conditioned responses — such as a fear response to a tone that was once paired with a shock — with implications for the treatment of phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.For her studies at the confluence of theory and experiment that illuminate the behavioral and biological foundations of learning and decision-making.
Posted Apr 14 2015