Pearl Chiu, Ph.D.
Decoding the experience of being human
How can we quantify human motivation, emotion, and social behaviors?
Pearl Chiu, Ph.D., works at the forefront of an emerging field called Computational Psychiatry. She studies the neuroscience underlying human motivation and social decision-making to understand how these processes are altered by mental illness.
Dr. Chiu’s research combines multiple methods, including behavioral assessments, clinical interviews, self-report, computational modeling, and functional neuroimaging. Her laboratory examines how humans make choices, and how decision-making is affected by mental health disorders, such as depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and autism. These studies will help her team develop biologically-informed interventions to help people overcome decision-making impairments caused by disease.
- Associate Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
- Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Science
- Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, School of Medicine
Chung D, Christopoulus GI, King-Casas B, Ball SB, Chiu PH. (2015). Social signals of safety and risk confer utility and have asymmetric effects on observers' choices. Nature Neuroscience 18(6): 912-916.
Zhu L, Jenkins AC, Set E, Scabini D, Knight RT, Chiu PH, King-Casas B, Hsu M. (2014). Damage to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex affects tradeoffs between honesty and self-interest. Nature Neuroscience 17(10): 1319-21.
White SW, Mazefsky CA, Dichter GS, Chiu PH, Richey JA, Ollendick TH. (2014). Social-cognitive, physiological, and neural mechanisms underlying emotion regulation impairments: Understanding anxiety in autism spectrum disorder. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience.
Baylor College of Medicine
Assistant Professor, Neuroscience and Psychiatry
- Baylor College of Medicine: Postdoctoral fellowship
- Harvard University: Ph.D., Psychology (Clinical Psychology, Experimental Psychopathology)
- Source of the Week, National Public Radio, 2015
- Scholar of the Week, Virginia Tech, 2012
- Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS), National Institute of Mental Health, 2010
- American Psychological Association Diversity in Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2006
- Dissertation Completion Merit Fellowship, Harvard University, 2004
- Student Poster Award, Society for Psychophysiological Research, 2004
- Harvard University Graduate Society Dissertation Merit Fellowship, 2003
- Sackler Fellowship in Psychobiology, 2001
- Vincent Prize, 2001
- Bok Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Harvard University, 2001
- Stimson Prize for Research, Harvard University, 2000
- Certificate in Mind, Brain, Behavior, Harvard University, 1998
- John Harvard Certificate of Merit, Harvard University, 1998
Article ItemScientists find heightened attention to surprise in veterans with PTSD , article
A new study found that people with PTSD have an increased learning response to surprising events compared to people without PTSD.Date: Jan 10, 2018
Article ItemInstitute Scholars' research crosses the globe and disciplines , article
The Scholars Program from the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment is designed to support faculty in strengthening the proposals for external funding, the collection of preliminary data, and other proposal development activities.Date: Feb 07, 2017
Article ItemNIH’s alcohol addiction research programs leader will speak at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute , article
George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, will discuss the neurocircuitry of alcohol addiction at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.Date: Jan 17, 2017
Article ItemSummer Scholars program supports interdisciplinary research , article
The Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment funds the summer grant program. This year's recipients will study everything from emotion socialization in Appalachia to food security and sovereignty in Guatemala.Date: Jul 20, 2016
Article ItemBrain scanning reveals that birds of a feather really do flock together , article
In a study using functional magnetic resonance imaging, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists found that our inherent risk-taking preferences affect how we view and act on information from other people.Date: May 19, 2015
Article ItemBrain School 2015 focuses on beginnings , article
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to host third annual Brain School.Date: Mar 10, 2015
Article ItemScientists find possible neurobiological basis for tradeoff between honesty, self-interest , article
A team of scientists from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and the University of California at Berkeley used economic games to study how the brain makes choices about honesty.Date: Sep 23, 2014
Article ItemRisky business: Scientists seek to identify predictors of risky behaviors among teenagers , article
What makes the adolescent brain so susceptible to taking risks? Virginia Tech scientists are recruiting as many as 150 teenagers to help them find out.Date: May 22, 2014
Article ItemBrain Awareness Week will highlight the wonders of nature's most remarkable machine , article
Imagine a portable supercomputer that requires only the wattage of a dim lightbulb to run and yet can decode ancient languages, invent fictional worlds, and distinguish friend from foe. The Virginia Tech community will be celebrating that supercomputer – the human brain – during Brain Awareness Week, which begins March 11.Date: Mar 01, 2013
Article ItemVirginia Tech Carilion Research Institute faculty member receives National Institute of Mental Health award , article
Pearl Chiu, faculty member with the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, has receive a $1.1 million research award from the National Institute of Mental Health.Date: Feb 03, 2011
Article ItemPowerful scanners for brain research to be delivered at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke , article
A magnetic resonance imaging machine (MRI) being delivered on Nov. 17 to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research InstituteDate: Nov 11, 2010
Recent Media Coverage
Redirect ItemWVII TV: Teens Can Exert Positive Peer Pressure on Friends , redirect Date: Jan 08, 2021
Redirect ItemWith Good Reason: The Science of Peer Pressure , redirect Date: Jan 08, 2021
Redirect ItemKETV: Teens Can Influence Peers to Make Safer Decisions , redirect Date: Jan 07, 2021