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Dr Nahid Zokaei

British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow and University Research Lecturer.

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When did you first get interested in the brain?

Back in Iran, my mum was an educational psychologist and their team was validating Piaget’s test for the Middle East. I was then around 5 and her guinea pig. She tested and re-tested everything on me, to the extent that I started administering the tests on my cousins and friends whenever we played house. This ignited my initial interest and it grew as I grew older and could engage in discussions with her.

Who has inspired you during your career?

So many people, it’s impossible to just name a few. I am so lucky that I have two giants in our field as my mentors (Prof Masud Husain and Prof Kia Nobre). Their excitement, curiosity and work ethic inspires me every day.

On the other side of the spectrum, my students challenge and inspire, with their new ideas, fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to do open science.

What has been the most important paper in your area in the last 12 months?

In the past year or so, there have been many collaborative advances in how we analyse and visualise data. These include: computational modelling of behaviour, getting tuning curves for basic features in memory from EEG data, and data-driven analysis of resting-state MRI and MEG data. Application of all these techniques to disorders of brain is what is most exciting to me going forward.  

What is the next exciting breakthrough in your field going to be?

Identifying ways to diagnose disorders of old-age, sooner and with better precision. I realise this is a lot but I think all the effort going into this area of research, with many large-scale collaborative projects underway, will pay off soon.

What do you do outside the lab?

I am obsessed with gardening and podcasts. I have an extensive collection of house-plants (50+) that I propagate and share with family and friends. I listen to podcasts walking to and from work every day and am slowly (very slowly) working on creating a science podcast as well.What’s your favourite film/book/music?

I listen to different types of music depending on what I am doing; for writing I like listening to Mendelssohn’s symphonies, while I listen to 90’s rap when coding.

I like reading medieval Persian poetry by not very-well known poets: Shah Nimatullah and Iraqi.