Thackery Brown, Ph.D.

Email: thackery.brown at

Thackery received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Boston University under the mentorship of Dr. Chantal Stern, and completed his postdoctoral training at Stanford University with Dr. Anthony Wagner. He is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at Georgia Institute of Technology, a member of the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging (CABI) and Georgia Tech Neuroscience, and a Network Scholar of The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Estibaliz Herrera, Ph.D.

Email: estibaliz.herrera at

I am a Postdoctoral Researcher in the School of Psychology at Georgia Institute of Technology, and a member of the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging (CABI). My research concerns understanding the neural substrates that underlie human spatial learning and memory mechanisms. I examine how humans navigate using approaches derived from experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience in combination with functional neuroimaging (fMRI).I received my Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Leicester (UK), and prior to moving to the US as a postdoc I gained teaching experience working in Bournemouth University (UK), where I was awarded with a small grant from ARUK. I obtained an MSc in Neuroscience Research from the University of Oviedo (Spain), and I also have years of experience as a research assistant in behavioral neuroscience working with rodent models.

Research interests: I am particularly interested in better understanding which factors lead navigation strategies (egocentric and allocentric) to interact with each other or to the absence of interactions between them, as well as in characterizing their underpinning neural networks.

More broadly, I am interested in memory consolidation, visual attention, and how different cognitive abilities perform in typical and atypical populations.

Personal interests: When I am not in the lab, I enjoy hiking, traveling, lifting weights, chocolate and rock&roll.

Omar Zeid, Ph.D. 

Email: ozeid3 at

My academic interests center around the varied ways that humans perceive and move through time and space. I earned my Ph. D in Cognitive and Neural Systems from Boston University – studying how brain circuits process sequences of motor actions and sequences of time intervals in parallel to perform rhythmic motor behaviors like singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument. I’m currently working on a project (using computational modeling and neuroimaging results – particularly fMRI) investigating the mechanisms behind the spatial navigation of different environments for humans. As a long-time math tutor with experience teaching math and neuroscience classes, I am an advocate for increasing STEM (particularly mathematical) literacy at all levels, and I hope that tying my modeling work to concrete psychological hypotheses will go some way to justifying quantitative and qualitative mathematical analysis’s place in neuroscience and neuropsychology.

Research Interests: Systems Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience, Mathematical Modeling, Music Perception/Cognition/Performance, Spatial Navigation, Serial Motor Action Sequencing, Motor Sequence Learning, Mathematical Perception/Cognition, Handedness

Personal Interests: Cooking/Baking, Writing Music, Watching Movies, Travel, Collecting Old Video Games, Exploring the City, Trivia, Region-Specific Styles of Pizza, Karaoke

Graduate Students

Paulina Maxim

Email: paulina.maxim at

My research focuses on spatial navigation and schema memory across the lifespan. I am particularly interested in the hippocampal-medial prefrontal mechanisms involved in the different stages of spatial navigation and during complex memory and virtual navigation tasks. I study healthy adults ages 18-35 and 65-80 using fMRI and behavioral research methods and techniques. Currently, my team is implementing stress measures using electrical stimulation to examine the behavioral impact on memory and navigation abilities across age groups. 

I am currently seeking 3 undergraduate research assistants to join our team and volunteer their time to recruit and run participants. Interested students must have at least 1.5 years left before graduating and must be comfortable speaking to older adults in person and over the phone.

Research interests: memory schemas, aging, spatial navigation

Personal interests: cycling, playing bass guitar, dancing

Yiren Ren

Email: yiren at

My research uses neuroimaging method (fMRI, EEG) to study human memory and potential uses of music in improving learning and memory. I used different methods, including univariate, multivariate (RSA, MVPA), functional connectivity, dynamic causal modeling and etc. to investigate how brain networks interact. I am particularly interested in the prefrontal-striatal-hippocampus network and its neural behaviors relating to how music-in-context provides schemas and rewards to motivate cross-modal learning.

Research interests: human episodic memory encodng, sequential memory, music therapy, music cognition

Personal interests: music, hiking, golfing and rock climbing

Jaida Long

Email: jaidalong at

My research focuses on spatial navigation and memory organization. Specifically, I am investigating the influence of environmental geometry (ex. square or trapezoid-shaped environments) on the accuracy of spatial memory. In the future, I am aiming to examine how memories are organized broadly, from spatial to conceptual.

Research Interests: space, navigation, memory, organization, geometry

Personal Interests: fashion modeling, political organizing, Pokémon

Simin Nasiri

Email: snasiri6 at

Coming from architecture and computational design background, and doing my Ph.D in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, my current research area is on how environment in general, and more specifically morphology (and geometry) of space, impacts our behavior. From the behavioral standpoint, my research focus is on curiosity, memory, and the brain’s reward system. The methods and techniques includes both neural and behavioral studies using virtual reality(VR), augmented reality (AR), fMRI, and fNIRS and the statistical analysis of those data.

Research interests: spatial memory, morphology and geometry, curiosity, dopamine

Personal interests: reading, playing violin and guitar and accordion, singing, animals, cooking, drawing, watercolor

Lab Manager

Yiran Li

Email: yiranli at

I am interested in how environmental cues and personal factors affect people’s performance in navigation tasks. My current research project involves analyzing data from a spatial navigation game, and looking at the relationship between navigation performance and family history of Alzheimer’s as well as their APOE-e4 gene. 

Research interests: machine learning, Alzheimer’s disease, spatial navigation

Personal interests: my two cats, muay thai kickboxing, and hiking

Research Assistants

Zoe Altizer (zaltizer at

Megan Kemp (mkemp at

Zahra Nurbhai (zahra.nurbhai at

John Currier (jcurrier3 at

Gracie Kelly (ckelly95 at

Shailey Desai (sdesai330 at

Rishi Perumal (rperumal7 at

Jalyn Leflore (jleflore6 at

Aryan Shah (ashah673 at

Lauren Hester (lhester8 at

Kevin Thompson (kthompson303 at

Anna Sterzer (asterzer3 at

Danielle Kim (dkim3024 at

Sana Hussain (shussain80 at

Kristin Liquori (kliquori3 at

Lab Alumni

You can find a list of our lab alumni here

Featured Image

Some of the crew at Pizza & Bowling lab social, January 2023
Some of the crew, Fall 2021