Sori Baek

Psychology & Neuroscience Ph.D. Student in Princeton University

About Me

Hi! My name is Sori, and it's pronounced like "sorry" in a Canadian accent.

I'm a second-year Ph.D. student in the Psychology & Neuroscience Joint Degree Program at Princeton University. I work with Lauren Emberson in the Princeton Baby Lab, and I'm funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and Princeton Centennial Fellowship. I am a developmental cognitive neuroscientist, which means that I am interested in how infants' brains work. Specifically, I use Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) and eye-tracking equipment on babies to study how the infant brain forms predictions, processes prediction violations, learns new things about the world, and remembers past events!

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Current research

How does the infant attention network respond to sequential patterns?

Infants are super good at making predictions about the future, and that they use attention to guide this process. In collaboration with Dr. Sagi Jaffe-Daxe, I look at the interaction between temporal prediction and attention in the frontoparietal attention network. The manuscript for this work is currently under preparation for publication.

How does the infant attention network help make spatial predictions?

Dr. Kristin Tummeltshammer found that infants use top-down contextual knowledge to guide visual attention. In this collaboration with her, I explore the neural activities that underly this complex process! We are currently collecting data for this work.

How much does the brain learn when a baby plays with a toy?

It seems like babies put just about everything they see straight into their mouths. In collaboration with Dr. Amy Needham, I examine the short-term and long-term effects of this multimodal and active exploration on the brains of 6-month-old infants. We are currently collecting data for this work!

How do low-level scene features affect kids' emotions?

Low-level scene features in complex visual scenes affect adults' emotions and help them assess threats in the environment, but is this innate? We test whether young kids have the same emotional reaction to abstract low-level features. We will be collecting data for this work soon!

What do infants' eye gazes tell us about their memories?

Your eyes really are the windows to your soul: Eye gazes can tell us a lot about the memory a person holds. In this exciting new project, we look at how we can use eye-tracking data to probe the inner memories of infants.

Active experience supports perceptual & cognitive development

In this invited book chapter, we comprehensively review the existing research on infants' active engagement with experiences and their role in supporting the perceptual-cognitive development. You can access my first-author chapter in this published volume on Early Social-Cognitive Development here! (*Link to be added soon)

State of infant neuroscience research using fNIRS

fNIRS is an increasingly popular neuroimaging tool to study babies' brains. How can we ensure that we collect the best data? What affects how fussy a baby is during research? We answer these questions by synthesizing all infant fNIRS research published to date.

Previous research

How does the human brain process faces?

We explored how the temporal cortex in the human brain processes human and non-human faces. My contribution to this work is that I discovered a causal relationship between the post-fusiform area and face perception. You can access our work published in Nature Communications here!

What happens in our brain when we do math?

We looked at the temporal profiles of the neuronal activity in the posterior inferior temporal gyrus (PITG) and the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) in response to visually different formats of numbers. You can access my first-author work published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience here!

Which brain areas cause subjective experiences?

We synthesized the behavioral results of electrically stimulating the brains of more than one hundred people to examine how different brain areas are causally important for subjective experiences. You can access this work published in Nature Human Behaviour here! (*Link to be added soon)

What factors affect reading speed across languages?

We analyzed how the print size and retinal eccentricity affect reading speed in English and Korean, and how they differ across languages. You can access this work published in Vision Research here!

Relationship between medial parietal cortex and visuo-spatial processing

We reported a case of a patient with localized focal seizures originating from the medial parietal cortex (area 7m) and clear visuospatial semiological signs. You can access this publication here!