Dr Ashvin Shah


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Latest information

I can still be reached at: a.shah at sheffield dot ac dot uk.
My website is at this link.


I joined the ABRG in the summer of 2010. Although my contract ended in the spring of 2013, I continue with work with Kevin Gurney and colleagues in finishing up some projects. I recieved my PhD in 2008 from the Neuroscience and Behavior Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (in the US) under the supervision of Andrew Barto. I am interested in how computational mechanisms that we think are implemented in brain areas are used to develop behaviour we see in animals, specifically in animals engaged in learning tasks. (And yes, humans are animals.) For my PhD research, I looked at motor skill acquisition by implementing models on a fairly abstract level, similar to those used in reinforcement learning research within computer science. The abstract to my thesis provides a better description of that stuff. Over here in the ABRG, I will use more realistic models to investigate how we can develop novel "actions," i.e., discover the specific behavior that we just did that resulted in something interesting that just happened. A possible mechanism by which this can happen is through a very short-latency and short-lasting dopamine signal that reinforces behaviors, as discussed in Redgrave et al. (2008) and Redgrave and Gurney (2006). The simulations we will do are closely related to experimental work being done by Peter Redgrave and colleagues here at Sheffield.

Research Interests