Pearl Chiu


Office phone: 540-526-2019

Office location: R-1110

Email address:

Pearl Chiu, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

Associate Professor of Psychology, College of Science, Virginia Tech

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

How is it that a depressed individual may value nothing at all, whereas an addict might value drug consumption at the expense of all else? What quantitative neurobehavioral measures of motivation, social function, and emotion may be useful for clinical assessment? What makes some people especially vulnerable to peer pressure?

To address these and related questions, the Chiu Laboratory examines the neuroscience of human motivation and social decision-making. Dr. Chiu’s work is also at the forefront of Computational Psychiatry, an emerging field that broadly applies quantitative model-based understandings of neural functioning to understand the neural and behavioral decision-making processes that break down in mental illness.

Ongoing projects use multiple methods, including behavioral tasks, self-report, clinical interviews, computational models, and functional neuroimaging to: 1) study the neural substrates of how, when, and why humans make and change their decisions; 2) detail how these neurobehavioral systems are affected in disorders marked by difficulties in motivated decision-making (e.g., major depression, addiction, PTSD, autism); and 3) develop biologically-informed interventions to remediate these functional deficits.

For a more complete listing of Pearl Chiu's publications, visit PubMed.

Education and Training

  • Baylor College of Medicine: Postdoctoral fellowship
  • Harvard University: PhD , Psychology (Clinical Psychology, Experimental Psychopathology)

Previous Positions

  • Baylor College of Medicine
    Assistant Professor, Neuroscience and Psychiatry

Awards and Honors

  • 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