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PhD student Yunzhe Liu awarded UCL Neuroscience Early Career Prize

Yunzhe Liu, PhD student at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging has been awarded the UCL Early Career Neuroscience Prize (junior category) to recognise his outstanding published work.

The competition is open to all UCL PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and junior Principal Investigators. Nominees are expected to have led a ground-breaking piece of work, which they have published as first author in a peer-reviewed journal between 1 January 2019 and 1 March 2020. The research should have been conducted at UCL.

Yunzhe is a PhD student in the Cognition and Computational Psychiatry Team, based within the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Aging Research. His PhD focuses on the neuro-computational mechanism of sequential replay in representation, learning, and decision-making. For example, how past experiences get re-organized offline, or preferentially retrieved online in the service of current goal. His research combines quantitative human behaviours with non-invasive neuroimaging and computational modelling.

The work carried out, for which this prize has been awarded was published in Cell in July 2019. Yunzhe and colleagues describe how they developed a new set of tools for measuring replay in humans and applied them to first reproduce several results known from hippocampal replay in rodents. They trained participants on a rule defining an ordering of objects and then presented a novel set of objects in a scrambled order. Across two studies, they observed that representations of these novel objects were reactivated during a subsequent rest.

Upon receiving news of the award Yunzhe added:

“It really is a great honour to be recognized as a neuroscience early career prize winner, especially given how amazing the UCL neuroscience community is. I would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone at FIL and MPC, especially Cathy Price and Ray Dolan for making it an inclusive and intellectual-stimulating place to work and study. I would also want to thank Tim Behrens, for being kind and patient, especially when I have trouble deciphering British subtext!”

Yunzhe also received the Jon Driver Prize on the same day, recognising him as an outstanding young neuroscientist.

Professor Cathy Price, director of the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging added:

“Many congratulations to Yunzhe for winning two awards highlighting his outstanding contribution to the field of neuroscience and the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging.”

You can read the full paper in Cell here.