Jascha Achterberg

Jascha Achterberg

  • Scholar
  • Germany
  • 2019 PhD Medical Science at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
  • St John's College

One of the most uniquely human capabilities may be the general ability of dealing with novel situations and complex problems. In my PhD I am studying the neuronal dynamics of complex problem solving and computations underlying general intelligence in brains and machines. My research is supervised by John Duncan (Cambridge) and Matt Botvinick (Google DeepMind).

I have always been interested in understanding the complex systems of everyday life from a quantitative point of view and hence decided to study the psychology of markets when doing my undergraduate in Osnabrück, Germany. It was at that time that I developed a fascination for human decision making and behavioural economics which lead me to join the Policy Research Group at Cambridge’s Department of Psychology. Even though I enjoyed our work there, using behavioural research methods to design evidence based policy interventions, I started to be more interested in the neuronal mechanisms behind human decision making – namely, how do we extract and process complex information in the first place? Therefore, I joined the MRC Cognition and Brain Science Unit towards the end of my undergraduate. Here I remained ever since and explored how one can understand high level phenomena (decision making / intelligence) and their underlying neural code. The two phenomena I am especially interested in are compositional problem solving and rapid one-shot-learning. 

Outside the lab I enjoy making music (being a trumpeter and guitarist myself) as well as long distance running. I also co-founded and serve on the board of organisations fostering sustainable community development in South African townships.

Previous Education

Osnabr Business Psychology 2019