Understanding the emergence of psychotic symptoms using computational models of learning and inference
The goals of my research program are to understand how alterations in neural processes underlying perception and cognition give rise to the symptoms that cause my patients to seek help. Ultimately, I hope to bring the techniques of computational neuroscience to bear in understanding the pathophysiology of developing psychosis with the goal of ultimate application to rational prevention and treatment strategies. My background in computational, sensory, and perceptual neuroscience has brought my work into close proximity to the mission of the Wu Tsai Institute: my work in multisensory integration has attempted to understand how developmental processes and perceptual plasticity shape our internal model of the environment; and my work in computational modeling of perception and behavior has sought to understand the processes driving the generation of psychotic symptoms. These interests intersect nearly completely with my clinical expertise. As Medical and Associate Director of the Yale PRIME Psychosis Risk Clinic, I evaluate and treat young people at the earliest phases of psychosis. Iâ€™m privileged to bring my scientific expertise to their care and to draw rare insights from their lived experience that informs my work in the laboratory. I hope that understanding the nuances of these experiences and the processes that drive them will lead not only to new diagnostic and treatment approaches, but to a greater understanding of human perception and cognition writ large.
Al Powers trained at Yale College (BA, Cognitive Science), Vanderbilt University (MD, PhD, Neuroscience), and Yale-New Haven Hospital (Residency, Psychiatry; Fellowship, Schizophrenia Research). He uses psychophysics, in-depth clinical interviews, and neuroimaging to understand the perceptual and neural bases of hallucinations. He lives in New Haven with his young family and enjoys cooking, playing guitar, singing, and making homemade wine with his extended family.