lucy lai

neuroscience ph.d. student

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“All animals suffer unhappiness because learning is design, and this particular design for learning is optimal…” - from Principles of Neural Design (Sterling and Laughlin)


I am a grad student in the Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, working on theories of learning under computational resource constraints. I’m curious about how these constraints can both benefit and limit our behavioral repertoire, and how the trade-off between reward and cognitive cost is compromised in psychiatric disease. I am also interested more broadly in the limitations of human reasoning and thought, and in the collaboration between artificial and natural intelligence.



My undergraduate research days were spent in the Yau Lab at Baylor College of Medicine. There I worked on developing a Bayesian inference model for understanding multisensory time distortions.

I often fled north to escape hot Houston summers… :-)

Thanks to an NSF-REU, I spent some time at MIT working in the lab of Mehrdad Jazayeri. My work there focused on understanding how variability in perception, inference, and memory influences sensorimotor timing.

I spent another summer at the beautiful Janelia Research Campus as a part of the JUS program. There, Josh Dudman taught me to record from neurons, and together we tried to understand how the striatum might represent action kinematics.