Doctor of Philosophy candidate
What can the subconscious brain tell us about a person’s decision making? That is the interesting topic Zohreh Doborjeh is exploring through her PhD research.
“My research is primarily in the field of human choice behaviour and consumers’ brain cognitive functions to understand how human decision-making and preferences manifest before conscious thought. We know that only 10 percent of people’s decisions are intentionally made; the other 90 percent are made subconsciously by the brain based on previous experiences, history, genetics and other factors.”
Her work is part of a project involving researchers from AUT’s Knowledge Engineering and Discovery Research Institute (KEDRI) including her sister Maryam Doborjeh and their supervisor Professor Nikola Kasabov, as well as Professor Alex Sumich from Nottingham Trent University.
The work is based on a new type of artificial intelligence research called spiking neural networks, which was used to develop NeuCube, a machine learning system modelled on how the human brain learns and recognises patterns.
“This approach can decipher patterns of brain activity occurring at the sub-conscious level following exposure to different stimuli. This work will be a game-changer, in particular for marketing, although there are many other potential applications for this research.”
Surrounded by global expertise
She enjoys being based at KEDRI says Zohreh who came to AUT as an international student from Iran and was awarded a doctoral fee scholarship to support her studies.
“I feel so blessed to do what I love at AUT. My work is my passion; it’s what I’ve always dreamt of. I consider KEDRI a prestigious, internationally renowned venue to work at and research for a PhD, under the supervision and directorship of Professor Nikola Kasabov who is a known leader in the area of artificial intelligence.
“I love being part of KEDRI, which is tackling some of the greatest challenges of our time, and enjoy working with inspiring academics who are leaders in their field and challenge you to think beyond the textbook.”
Her goal is to continue following the academic path towards a tenured professorship and to become more involved in research that applies AI to real-life scenarios.
Making a contribution
She has had a number of high points throughout her studies so far, says Zohreh.
“At KEDRI, I’ve had a number of opportunities to contribute to research. I’m in charge of the EEG lab for brain recording and data analysis, and am supervising students’ projects in the Neuroinformatics paper. I’ve also been involved in several Strategic Research Initiatives Fund projects, and have given presentations at two international conferences.”
Another achievement she is particularly proud of is seeing her research recognised by the academic community as well as the public.
“A culmination of my work is a paper on our project published in the prestigious science journal Nature, and the work has also been covered in a number of New Zealand and Australian media outlets. I’ve also been invited to talk about the research at the Tech Talk Show of New Zealand and the Auckland AI meet-up.”