Sujaya Neupane

I am a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. I obtained my PhD in neuroscience from McGill University and did my undergraduate and masters degrees in electrical and biomedical engineering. My PhD work was centered around the question of visual perceptual stability during eye movement; how do we visually perceive a stable environment around us despite us making 2-3 eye movements every second? In contrast, if we move our phone 2-3 times every second while taking a video, we would just record blurs and jitters. The answer is complicated and not complete, but it seems like there are parallel circuitries in the brain that continually update the sensory system to compensate for the motor activity which distorts sensory sampling. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to know more!

Currently, in my postdoctoral work I am investigating how we mentally navigate a certain sequence of memorized events or patterns. This spans several cognitive processes such as memory retrieval, navigation and time perception. People think that the brain has internal models which enable actions, decision, perception and cognition in general. In my understanding, an internal model is similar to a thought, but a thought that we are not aware of. It is not tangible but is actively at work in the brain in order to simulate a future action or make a plan. With careful experimental manipulation and modeling, we might be able to get a glimpse of these internal models. This will not only help us understand how the brain enables so many flexible behaviors, but will also compliment the development of algorithms that can work as intelligent machines.

Unrelated to my main work, I am also involved in an educational research project in a village called Jhimpa located near the western tip of Baglung. The goal is to run participatory action research to come up with efficient ways to improve learning in middle school classes. We have been using an educational app called E-paath developed by Rabi K, Dovan R and colleagues at OLE-Nepal. Students access animated contents from E-paath on their hand-held tablets while the app runs off of an offline server sitting in a raspberry-pi board. The long term goal is to collect usage data from the students and quantify whether the usage has any effect on learning (and if not, come up with contents which can improve learning). Since the teachers are directly involved in the research, new ideas come up all the time. If you are interested to get involved, shoot me an email. I can be reached at [email protected].