Who We Are

Aaron Seitz


I am a well-established investigator and internationally recognized as expert on mechanisms of perception attention and learning and memory using behavioral, computational and neuroscientific methodologies. My academic training is broad, with a BA in theoretical mathematics, PhD in computational neuroscience, postdoctoral work in systems neuroscience, and as a Research Assistant Professor concentrated on human psychophysics and neuroimaging before joining UCR, as a psychology professor.

My research led to new insights regarding the roles of reinforcement, attention, multisensory interactions, and different brain systems in learning. My research utilizes psychophysical, physiological, brain imaging, psychopharmacological, genetic, and computational studies on mechanisms of human perception, attention, learning and memory and I have published extensively on topics of learning and cognition.

Furthermore, as the Director of the University of California, Riverside Brain Game Center for Mental Fitness and Well-being, I am committed to translating lab-based research into approaches to benefit life in the real world. Hobbies include hiking, enjoying good food and music and discussing new ways for science to make positive impact.

Anja Pahor


I am a psychologist with a Ph.D. in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. My research interests involve understanding the mechanisms underlying higher-level cognitive functions, particularly memory, reasoning, and learning. I am also a member of the Working Memory and Plasticity Laboratory at UC Irvine. Click here for a link to a book I co-authored, titled Increasing Intelligence.

Marcello Maniglia


I am a postdoctoral, left-handed, southern Italian who has spent most of my life in the Western world. I have studied and worked in Southern England, France, and Southern California. I was initially attracted to the study of the human brain because of an optimistic, yet ultimately wrong interpretation of the quote, “fire together/wire together.”

I have developed an interest in Vision Science and Neural Plasticity following a late night double bill of the 1962 and 1963 cult classics, “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” and “The Man with the X-Ray eyes.” Since then, I have used psychophysics, brain stimulation, and eye tracking techniques to understand how the brain combines localized sensory input to make sense of the visual world and how this perception changes with learning and/or sensory loss.

Kimia Yaghoubi


I am a Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Ph.D. student working under Dr. Aaron Seitz and Dr. Megan Peters in the departments of Psychology and Bioengineering, respectively. My research interests involve understanding neuronal circuitry, underlying cognitive abilities, such as attention, perception, and decision making. I am currently working on characterizing the role of Locus Coeruleus (LC) in perceptual processing using fMRI. In my free time, I like to paint and tango!

Mohammad Dastgheib

I am a PhD candidate in Cognitive Neuroscience and work with Aaron Seitz and Ilana Bennett in the department of Psychology at UC Riverside. The main goal of my PhD project is to study the integrity of locus coeruleus in older adults and its impacts on perceptual learning and memory as well as its applications in early detection of neurodegenerative disorders. My interests also include computational methods and fMRI techniques. I like baking bread and taking photos with my old film camera.

Kamryn Mattingly

I am a Neuroscience PhD student, working in Aaron Seitz’s lab. I am interested in how we measure behavior, namely executive functions and their interactions with impulsivity, and how these relationships could help lead to the development of new assessments. My favorite neuroimaging technique is fMRI and I am very fascinated with the physics regarding how brain activity is detected. In my spare time, I enjoy dancing, doing puzzles, and playing video games with my son.

Samyukta Jayakumar

I’m an international student in my 3rd year in the Cognitive Neuroscience PhD program at UCR working in Aaron’s Seitz lab. My work primarily focuses on vision training studies and am interested in understanding the dependencies of perceptual learning and working memory processes. I am currently involved in developing an adaptive vision training paradigm for both Neurotypical individuals and Schizophrenia patients. If I’m not in the lab, I’m traveling and hiking or just painting and enjoying a nice book with a cup of hot chocolate by my bedside!

Michael Gilbert

I am a Ph.D. student in Dr. Seitz’s lab. My interests chiefly lie in understanding how we learn sensory and semantic information in noisy, cluttered and real-world environments full of extraneous music, background sounds, app notifications and other elements of the modern world. I am putting together studies investigating the process of Perceptual Learning for Task-Irrelevant stimuli and hope to begin working with the Brain Game Center on their brain-training games. In my spare time, I enjoy playing role-playing games, board games and, of course, video games. I also love to read and write fiction, and enjoy electronica and heavy metal.

Morgan Gomez


Mahsa Alizadeh Shalchy

I am a Computational Cognitive Neuroscience PhD student at UCR. My research interests include working memory (WM), brain circuitry, event related potentials, task and rest fMRI, and computational modeling. I am currently working on two projects:
1) Understanding the neural correlates of working memory using electroencephalogram (EEG) and an N-Back task
2) Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying the Locus Coeruleus (LC), a major Norepinephrine (NE) center in the brainstem that is highly integrated in normal cognitive abilities.
For this project, I am focusing on LC modulation of auditory perception. When I am not analyzing data, I like to listen to post rock music.

Sebastian Lelo de Larrea


I am an international graduate student from Mexico City, interested in what ways do experiences modify our biological structures and to what extent can we guide and shape this process for our benefit. My research focuses on areas of perceptual learning and cognitive training with an interest in integrating philosophical insights into our elusive cognitive concepts through theoretical work. In my free time, I like to play video games and listen to music!

Chris Casey


I am a Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. student at UCR. My research involves gamification of cognitive training tasks into cognitive training games, as well as determining different ways of motivating and reinforcing gameplay to improve cognitive training outcomes.
I focus on gamifying working memory tasks, such as the N-Back task, in Recollect. My research includes creating and studying the additions of game elements to Recollect such as achievement system, additional content like novel stimuli and themes, and the effect of obstacles in an added navigation task that must be simultaneously performed with the memory task.

Ted Jacques

I am a Ph.D. student at UCR studying Cognitive Psychology and Perceptual Learning. I graduated in 2010 from Colgate University majoring in Psychology with a minor in Applied Mathematics. Before joining the Seitz lab, I worked as a full-time research assistant for Daphne Bavelier, a prominent researcher in the field of cognitive training. My current research focuses on individual differences in learning, and methodological questions in learning paradigms through interactions between cognitive functions such as visual attention and learning in perceptual tasks as well as eye-tracking measures to better understand learning in novel ways.

Becca Tuckerman


I am a Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. student working at the UCR Brain Game Center. My projects mainly focus on cognitive training with healthy older adults, elderly people ages 60+, and children ages 5-13 years old, who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. I use specialized brain training video games to train different areas of cognitive function, such as working memory, cognitive control, attention, and vision.