University of British Columbia, 2020, B.A., Honours

I investigate the neural correlates and behavioural mechanisms that underpin how people interpret unpleasant situations and apply effort to avoid unpleasant situations. I am also interested in computationally modelling biases and affective states that contribute to evaluations of effort cost, with the aim of better understanding the roles that differing cognitive mechanisms, and mood disorders, play in people’s perception of effort. Furthermore, I help conduct a variety of fMRI data analysis projects, focusing on multivariate analyses of representations of affective stimuli. I am co-supervised by Dr. Rebecca Todd and Dr. Alan Kingstone. Additionally, I collaborate with Dr. Kiran Soma on statistical analyses of local steroid regulations in rodents. I also collaborate with Dr. Tim Murphy in the UBC Department of Psychiatry to develop computer vision methods to track animal behaviours in real time, and segment mesoscale calcium images in mice into functional brain regions.

Listen and Compare
What makes a sound unpleasant? When we’re bothered by something we hear, are we averse to the sound’s acoustic content (e.g. screeching noises or a loud volume) – or does the sound bring to mind an unpleasant past experience? And what role does a sound’s context play in our perception of it being aversive? These are some of the questions that I am currently exploring in the BAR Lab through tasks that ask participants to rate – and describe their ratings of – sounds on measures of valence and arousal.
Act, Avoid, and Approach
We often have to put in effort to avoid things that bother us, or to get things that we want. However, mood disorders such as depression and anxiety can shift how much we are willing and able to deploy this effort, in concert with changes in how we value avoiding aversive outcomes or approaching pleasant ones. With my co-supervisor Dr. Rebecca Todd, I investigate how people deploy physical and/or cognitive effort to avoid unpleasant outcomes or obtain rewards, and how participants’ levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms interact with their accuracy and effort deployment in a series of intermixed go/no-go tasks. Furthermore, I seek to identify and explore the cognitive processes that influence effort deployment in these tasks through mathematical and reinforcement learning models.

Hamden, J. E.*, Gray, K. M.*, Salehzadeh, M., Kachkovski, G. V., Forys, B. J., Ma, C., … Soma, K. K. (2021). Steroid
profiling of glucocorticoids in microdissected mouse brain across development. Developmental Neurobiology, 81(2), 189–
206. https://doi.org/10.1002/dneu.22808
Forys, B. J.*, Xiao, D.*, Gupta, P., & Murphy, T. H. (2020). Real-time selective markerless tracking of forepaws of head-
fixed mice using deep neural networks. eNeuro. https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0096-20.2020
Forys, B.*, Xiao, D.*, Gupta, P., Boyd, J. D., & Murphy, T. H. (2018). Real-time markerless video tracking of bodyparts in
mice using deep neural networks. BioRxiv, 482349. https://doi.org/10.1101/482349

*First co-authors