Jeffrey Erlich

Assistant Professor of Neural and Cognitive Sciences
NYU Shanghai

Lab website:

Jeffrey Erlich is an Assistant Professor of Neural and Cognitive Sciences at NYU Shanghai.
Prior to joining NYU Shanghai, he was an Associate Research Fellow at Princeton University. He holds a Ph.D. from New York University and a B.S. from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Professor Erlich’s research interests are neural mechanisms of decision-making, attention, and emotion. His work has appeared in Archives of General Psychiatry, Frontiers in Neuroscience, Neuron, and Nature.

The long term goal of Professor Erlich's research is to understand how chaotic neural activity, driven by internal dynamics and external sensory input, is resolved into coherent behavior. Animals have many competing goals and drives as well as a barrage of sensory input to process. If our attention and actions are as frenetic as the world around us (as may be the case in attention deficit disorder), we will have difficulty accomplishing our goals. How does the brain deal with all of this competing input? How do brain structures deal with ambiguous or conflicting sensory information? And how do different brain structures communicate, influence, and compete with each other so that the result of this competition is coherent thought and action? These questions cover a range of topics: attention, emotion, decision-making, cognitive control, planning, working memory, and others. In order to tackle these challenging questions, the lab uses a high-throughput training facility to develop complex rodent behavioral paradigms that evoke some aspect of competition or conflict. Then, using a synthesis of the latest experimental (high-channel count neural recording, optogentics, pharmacology) and computational techniques, we develop and test theories of the corresponding neural mechanisms.

Professor Erlich has had a long and diverse neuroscience career before joining the faculty of NYU Shanghai as an Assistant Professor. As an undergraduate research assistant, he published work on the neurochemistry of schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's diseases using post-mortem human brain tissue. For his doctoral work, he examined the contribution of the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex of the rat in fear regulation with Joseph LeDoux at New York University. During his postdoctoral work with Carlos Brody at Princeton University, he developed several novel complex behavioral paradigms in the rat which were vital to the characterization of a rodent frontal-parietal spatial-working-memory network.