Alan Cowen

Graduate Student

Alan If the structure of our mind ever changes, it typically does so too slowly for us to notice (unless we’re on mind-altering substances) and in ways that evade description, making internal experiences nearly impossible to quantify. My goal is to demonstrate that we can glimpse otherwise ineffable aspects of our internal world by measuring the physical correlates of subjective experience—i.e., by measuring and decoding brain function. Neural decoding was the focus of my work at Yale in Marvin Chun’s lab, where I showed that we could use activity in specialized brain areas to reconstruct face images people saw. I also briefly explored the brain’s representation of more subjective experiences at Kamitani lab in Kyoto, where I helped with a dream-decoding project. Likewise, my current PhD work aims to move beyond what people see and deeper into what they feel, modeling neural activity to explore the structure and dynamics of emotional experiences.


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