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Science Journey: I, Human: Unlocking the Secret of Human Intelligence

Sneha Aenugu
Social & Decision Neuroscience graduate student

About the Presentation

Neuroscience • Artificial Intelligence

As far as we know for certain, humans are the only species in the vast expanse of the cosmos with the consciousness and intelligence to study the mysteries of the universe. But the biggest mystery of all may be right in our own heads. How much do we know about the origins of our own intelligence? How am I able to convey complex thoughts by writing these words, and how are you able to understand me by reading them? How do people learn intricate skills like playing soccer or the violin? How did our collective brains come together to send humans into outer space, or to harness energy from within the atom?

In my research, I design experiments that set out to answer these very difficult questions using a common activity: video games. Learn how my lab at Caltech collects evidence for human skill development through studying how people—and artificial intelligence systems—play games like Minecraft.

Join me on this journey to explore the secrets of human intelligence and learn about the quest for intelligence that brought me to Caltech.

About the Speaker

Sneha Aenugu standing outdoors in a desert setting

Graduate student Sneha Aenugu is an electrical engineer turned neuroscientist from Hyderbad, India. She was first drawn to neuroscience when she realized that cells in the brain communicate with each other through electricity. At Caltech, Sneha studies how humans learn, act, and make decisions in the real world. The lab she works in employs technology that measures and creates images of brain activity. Sneha and her colleagues then use computer science to test theories about how the brain works.

Her love of science started in middle school when she discovered the joy of solving tricky math problems. Then, in high school, she began applying those skills to the study of physics.

Prior to Caltech, Sneha worked in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry building an automatic driving assistance product, and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, analyzing health care data using AI.

Apart from being a detective of neural mysteries, Sneha enjoys traveling, swimming, reading literary fiction, and writing poetry. She also practices improvisational dancing and is learning to play the violin. She sees art, music, and humor as core to being human and is, therefore, curious about how the human brain can express creativity through artistic endeavors.


Enrich your knowledge around the lecture topic by reviewing relevant terms, provided by Sneha.

Recommended Resources

Artificial Intelligence explainers from the Caltech Science Exchange:

VIDEO: Anatomy of a Neuron (Khan Academy)

About the Series

In Science Journeys, Caltech graduate students and postdoctoral scholars share their research to inspire scientific curiosity. Programs are designed for middle and high schoolers, but all are welcome.

These programs are made possible through the generosity of the Friends of Beckman Auditorium.

If you have questions, please email Mary Herrera at

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