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Emotions, AI, and the Brain 

Have you ever seen the film Ratatouille? If so, do you remember at the end when Anton Ego bites into Ratatouille, he instantly thinks of coming home to his mom cooking it? 

 

I am currently investigating this phenomenon, which I have dubbed as the “The Ratatouille Moment”. Specifically, my advisor, Dr. Adam Anderson, and I are trying to understand how cultural differences in comfort from food (Indian and North American) related to childhood experiences regulate how the brain responds to nutrients. Using fMRI and personalised stimuli sets, we will trigger nostalgic memories and examine the interaction between glycemic levels and nostalgic cues in hypothalamic activity. Additionally, we will be using bayesian models, multi-voxel pattern analysis, and graph theory to develop a neural model of homeostasis that is modulated by our emotions and memories. 

 

Additionally, I am exploring how odours, that is “The Proust Phenomenon”, trigger autobiographical memories and affect performance on social and cognitive tasks in the scanner. 

 

The overarching theme in my work are the individual differences in emotional experiences for identical stimuli. That is, how can the same smell remind me of death and you of home. What does this look like in the brain? 

 

The holy trinity that I building my research program towards is Emotions, AI, and the Brain. AI, or machine learning, is the method I will to study the neural correlates of affective processes, especially as they pertain to Consciousness. 

 

I have finally begun my “conscious journey” by starting to work with Dr. Shimon Edelman, a computational consciousness researcher. Under his guidance, I am education myself on the mathematical models and logic we can use to study this non-linear system.