Columbia University (Advisor: Dr. Daphna Shohamy)
Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience
- BA, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
- PhD, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Advisor: Dr. Aviv A. Mezer)
Shai Berman, PhD, obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology and cognitive science, summa cum laude, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her PhD thesis with Dr. Aviv A. Mezer investigated the structure-function relationship in the human white matter, using quantitative MRI and conduction models. Her dissertation work was awarded the Schlomiuk prize for outstanding PhD thesis. She is now studying the effect of hunger on value-based decision making in food- and non-food domains, and the neural mechanisms underlying these effects.
How the body’s physiological states—particularly hunger— affect value-based decision making.
Food choice and intake rely on a variety of cognitive functions, from memory to decision making to unconscious control of appetite, and understanding the mechanisms underlying food choice is essential for healthy eating behaviors. Dr. Shai Berman’s research program aims to examine the interaction of hedonic eating, which relies on reward-driven processes, and homeostatic motivation, which involves metabolic-driven processes, on eating behavior, as the two have largely been studied separately. To do so, she will study a common interaction between the two, the hunger-derived change in the rewarding value of food. She will do so by examining the brain function during eating-related behaviors at varying levels of hunger. She will focus on the interaction of the cerebellum with reward and metabolic systems. Further, she will examine whether the effects of hunger on value-based decision making is specific to food rewards, or whether it is generalizable to other non-food related decision-making, such as making decisions about monetary rewards. Her work will have important implications about the functions of the cerebellum in decision making, as well as clinical implications for those suffering with eating disorders and obesity.