︎In a nutshell


Starting with clinical/abnormal psychology, I slowly found a thing for neurobiological mechanisms underlying behavior and cognition. So I started my graduate studies in neuroscience, aiming to be a cognitive neuroscientist. But I started learning about animal behaviors, biological complexity, and so-called “wet neuroscience”. During that time, I realized how weird animals are (seriously tho, aren’t they?) and got attracted to evolutionary perspectives and the beauty of behaviors themselves. Thinking about giving up on human brains and sticking to rats or something, I was introduced to computational neuroscience. Well, my promiscuous attention span couldn’t say no to that either. A couple of seminal papers later, I finally settled on being interested in the neural network models of cognition and behavior. Of course, I still love reading and thinking about neuronal underpinnings of psychiatric disorders and animal behaviors, but now we’re just very good friends who hang out sometimes.

︎Education


Ph.D. Candidate @The Institute of Computational Neuroscience, UKE Hamburg.

October 2018 - Present

I study the brain-behavior relationship. I want to “understand the brain” by quantifying how much its elements - neural circuits and brain regions - are causally relevant for its function. I use systematic lesioning to quantify elements’ contributions, and since large-scale experimental lesions are infeasible, I use artificial neural network models as toy models of brains. The goal is to see how much information about networks’ inner mechanisms can be gained by decomposing them into pieces and naturally, how to effectively use the results to guide in-vivo experiments.


MSc Neuroscience @Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg.

October 2016 - September 2018

The focus of my program was on “Sensory systems” on multiple levels. I had different courses from cognitive neuroscience, to behavioral ecology, neurophysiology, and statistical learning. I joined the Biological Psychology Lab in 2017 and had my thesis on the Cocktail party effect using fMRI.


BSc Clinical Psychology @Roudehen Azad University of Tehran.

October 2009 - December 2015

I studied the biological foundations of mental disorders, diagnosis, nosology, clinical interview, basic statistics, and seminal theories in psychology. I had my thesis on inducing agitation and a sense of presence using music. The idea was to find core components of the soundtracks from horror movies. It didn’t really work.


︎Academic Experience


Teacher Assistant @Neuromatch Academy

July 2020

Neuromatch Academy is an online school of computational neuroscience during the lockdown due to the Corona pandemic. I was a TA there, learning a lot and finding very nice friends.



Research Fellow @Zatorre lab, McGill University, Montreal Neurological Institute.

July 2018 - September 2018

For my MSc thesis, I studied auditory attention in a complex environment (cocktail-party effect) using fMRI and analyzed the data using Inter-Subject Correlation (ISC). I was supervised by Dr. Sebastian Puschmann, Dr. Mor Regev, Prof. Dr. Christiane Thiel, and Dr. Robert Zatorre.


Research Fellow @Basal Ganglia, Motivation and Reward lab, Timone Institute of Neuroscience.

October 2017 - April 2018

I studied the role of the hyperdirect pathway in the motivation for reward and cocaine for my MSc research project. I learned how to handle rodents, perform stereotaxic surgeries, implant catheters, and used chemogenetics to target the hyperdirect pathway. I was supervised by Dr. Christelle Baunez, Dr. Alix Tiran Cappello, and Dr. Jannis Hildebrandt.


Research Assistant @School of Cognitive Sciences, Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences.

August 2015 - October 2016

I was involved in two projects, one about the role of Oxytocin in human observational learning and the other about the network differences between patients with ADHD and control subjects. I was supervised by Dr. Hossein Vahabie.


︎Achievements


Scholarship by SMARTstart fellowship

Bernstein Network provides this fellowship for those who are planning to have their Ph.D. studies in computational neuroscience. I was covered for a year to learn analytical tools and experimental techniques that are necessary for my Ph.D. study.

Scholarship by A*Midex fellowship

A total amount of 6,000€ for my internship at Timone Institute of Neuroscience.

Travel grant by DAAD STIBET

A total amount of 1,400€ for my internship at the Montreal Neurological Institute.

Travel grant by The Neuroscience MSc program of CVO

A total amount of 400€ to supplement my internship at the Montreal Neurological Institute.

Finalist at NENS best undergraduate students' poster

Among roughly 170 submissions, my poster was selected as one of the three MSc posters to be presented in the NENS poster fair held in FENS 2018.


︎Publications and Presentations


Fakhar, K., Hilgetag, C., 2021. Systematic Perturbation of an Artificial Neural Network: A Step Towards Quantifying Causal Contributions in The Brain. Poster presentation @The Organization for Computational Neuroscience (OCNS).

Fakhar, K., Hilgetag, C., 2020. Causal Brain Mapping of Artificial Neural Networks by Game Theory: A Case for in-silico Multi-Perturbation Experiments. Poster presentation @The International School and Conference on Network Science (NetSci).

Fakhar, K., Gonschorek, D., Schmors, L., & Bielczyk, N. Z. 2019. Neuronal Causes and Behavioural Effects: a Review on Logical, Methodological, and Technical Issues With Respect to Causal Explanations of Behaviour in Neuroscience. Preprint on Psyarxiv

Fakhar, K., Tiran Cappello, A., & Baunez, C. (2018). Role of the hyperdirect pathway in motivation for food and cocaine: a chemogenetic investigation. Poster Presentation @The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Forum.


︎Other Experiences


Institute of Neuroscience, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

June 2018: Lecturer and Tutor for the workshop on visual communication
October 2016 - October 2017: Student representative of the MSc neuroscience admission committee
October 2016  - December 2018: Member of neuroscience student body council

Eshareh Creative Solution

December 2014 - September 2016: Creative developer and graphic designer

Behnam Daheshpour Charity Organisation

July 2009 - December 2015: Creative and art manager (Volunteer)

World Food Programme (WFP)

June 2013 - December 2015: Creative and art manager (Volunteer)
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