Einstein Visiting Fellow 2011–2014
The Einstein Visiting Fellowships, funded by the Einstein Foundation Berlin, aim to enhance the international profile of universities and research institutions in Berlin by involving leading scientists and scholars from abroad in long-term academic research collaborations. The program primarily targets researchers whose expertise can promote specific areas of academic excellence in Berlin. In contrast to typical visiting researchers who stay at an institution for one semester, the goal of the Einstein Visiting Fellowship is to integrate Fellows into Berlin’s academic landscape on a more sustainable basis.
Ray Dolan is Mary Kinross Professor of Neuropsychiatry and Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, at UCL. His research addresses the neurobiology of emotion and decision making, how emotion impacts on cognition and its aberrant expression in disease. He has published over 500 peer reviewed papers is among the most cited scientist in the world in the field of Neuroscience and Behaviour. He has received numerous awards including the Alexander Von Humboldt Research Award (2004), the Minerva Foundation Golden Brain Award (2006), the International Max Planck Research Award (2007) and the Zülch Prize (2013). Between 2010 and 2014 he has been Einstein Visiting Fellow to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. He was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2000, Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2010 and an External Member of the Max Planck Society (MPS) in 2012. He recently established the first Centre for Computational Psychiatry at UCL, a joint venture with the Max Planck Society (MPS).
Decision-making and Uncertainty: How to sense and make sense in noisy environments
Over the four years of his fellowship Ray Dolan has made valuable contributions to the Berlin School of Mind and Brain that helped raise national and international awareness of the school. His outstanding scientific expertise has stimulated research within his own group but also with graduate students and faculty members affiliated with the Berlin School of Mind and Brain.
The unifying theme of the group can be subsumed under the topic Decision-making and Uncertainty: How to sense and make sense in noisy environments. Almost every decision we make, from choosing toast or cereals for breakfast to selecting a pension scheme, involves uncertainty. That is, we lack precise information on a perceptual level and behavioural outcomes are often uncertain so that it is a demanding task to estimate outcome predictions for our actions. The human mind has, however, evolved under these constraints and our decision-making apparatus is adapted to cope with uncertainty. How the brain processes such uncertain information (perceptual and social) is at the core interest of this group, using a broad approach to combine behavioural paradigms, imaging techniques and mathematical modeling.
Professor Dolan succeeded in recruiting four experienced post-doctoral fellows from diverse background that complemented each other (Arezoo Pooresmaeili, Florian Ostendorf, Ulf Toelch, Dominik Bach). The postdoctoral fellows received support from the infrastructure (management office, IT, lab and office space) that the Berlin School of Mind and Brain has to offer and additionally from two student research assistants who efficiently managed many research-related issues.
The Einstein Visiting Fellow's group 2011–2014
- Dr. Dominik Bach (postdoctoral researcher)
- Professor Dr. Raymond J. Dolan (head)
- Dr. Florian Ostendorf (postdoctoral researcher)
- Arezoo Pooresmaeili, Ph.D. (postdoctoral researcher)
- Dr. Ulf Toelch (postdoctoral researcher)