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Hi, my name is Burak Erdeniz. I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology at İzmir University of Economics since 2015. I received my Bachelor of Science degree from Çankaya University, Department of Industrial Engineering in 2004 with a graduation project titled “Solving a Single Machine Schedule Problem using Genetic Algorithms, Ant Colonies and Tabu Search.”
After my graduation, I continued my research interests in artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology by pursuing a masters degree in the Department of Cognitive Science, Informatics Institute of Middle East Technical University. During that time, I collaborated with Prof. Hakan Gürvit and spent the majority of my time in the Motor Disorders Unit of the Neurology Department at Istanbul University School of Medicine working with Parkinson Patients in the Motor Disorders Unit working on how context influences on Probabilistic Learning.
In 2006, I received my Masters in Cognitive Science with a thesis titled “Probability Learning in Normal Healthy and Parkinson Subjects: The Effect of Reward, Context and Uncertainty.” I continued my PhD for another two years in the same department, but after working on various research projects on game theory and graphical passwords, I realized that I want to have my academic career in Cognitive Neuroscience.
In 2008, I moved to United Kingdom to University of Hertfordshire to pursue my Phd on cognitive neuroscience of reinforcement learning and decision making. I completed a joint Phd degree from the School of Psychology and School of Computer Science from University of Hertfordshire in 2012, with a thesis titled “Computational Model-Based Functional Imaging of Reinforcement Learning in Humans.” After my doctorate I moved to United States and joined to Dr. Seidler’s Neuromotor and Behavior Laboratory as a post-doctoral research fellow to work on the NASA funded project titled “Spaceflight Effects on Neurocognitive Performance: Extent, Longevity, and Neural Bases.” During my post-years in University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, I also worked on functional connectivity in healthy ageing in collabaration with University of Zurich.
I have various different research interests and intellectual curiosities. Currently I can summarize my main research interest into three categories which are:
Computational Neuroanatomy and Functional Neuroimaging
I am collaborating with various amazing people with the aim of understanding the differences between a Bipolar and Schizophrenic brain. We usually look at different markers such as cortical thickness, volume, complexity, gyrification index, tracktography, BOLD signals etc. We are also trying to understand differences in functional network connections. In order to do that we also develop new algorithms inspired from graph theory and machine learning.
Bodily Self Consciousness and Virtual Reality
Over the years, I used virtual reality tools for different projects and purposes. But during the last three years, I am using VR to reduce the attentional fatigue that people experience (by taking people for a walk in various simulated virtual environments ) and secondly I am using it to understand the functions of the vestibular system. Specifically the contributions of the bodily-self consciousness on a specific region of the brain called tempora-parietal junction. In addition to that in our lab, we are developing new substantial reality experiences (i.e., out of body experiences and perspective shifting) that will help us to understand bodily self consciousness.
Neuro-Immune Interactions and the Evolution of the Behavioral Avoidance Mechanism
Over the last five years one of the most important discovery in Psychology is probably on the neuro-immune interaction. Immune system incorporates bodies intrinsic mechanisms to fight with various infections and one of these mechanisms is inflamation. Inflammation is the response generated by immune system against harmful stimuli as in the case of pathogens, in order to (if possible) remove the stimuli and initiate the healing process, thereby it acts as a defense mechanism that is vital to health. Here, with the collaboration with various Molecular Biologist and Geneticist colleagues we perform behavioral experiments and look at changes in cytokines leves (i.e., IL-6, TNF alpha). In the near future, we are also planning to perform mRNA analysis. I believe that this research will open new frontiers in the area of neurosemiotics.