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Welcome to Yale's Perception & Cognition Lab!
 
We're a group of cognitive scientists who explore how we see and how we think, with a special focus on how perception interacts with (and provides a foundation for) other aspects of our mental lives. For more information on the research going on in our lab (including papers, manuscripts, demos, etc.), click on the banner above, or check out some of the individual homepages of our members listed below.








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Recent Lab Abstracts
Reference Guides
Lab Photo Album
TV Clips




Recent Lab News
  • Congratulations to former lab undergraduate RA Alex White, who has just started up his own lab as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior at Barnard College. (Brian is psyched about this, even though it's starting to make him feel old as more of his former undergraduate collaborators become professors.) (January 2021)

  • Congratulations to lab graduate student Joan Ongchoco, who has been awarded one of only 5 Professional Development Awards from the 2020 Object Perception, Memory, and Attention meeting -- an impressive accomplishment, since this year there were nearly 100 virtual presentations! (At this year's OPAM meeting, Joan has four different presentations with various co-authors.) And this honor comes relatively hot on the heels of an Elsevier/Vision Research Travel Award from the Vision Sciences Society, which Joan was also awarded back in May. Kudos! (November 2020)

  • Brian is excited to be giving an invited talk -- on "Roots of aesthetic experience in visual processing?" -- at this month's annual (virtual) meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics. (November 2020)

  • Congratulations to former lab graduate student Hannah Raila, who has accepted a position as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California - Santa Cruz! At UCSC, Hannah has founded the Emotion, Cognition, & Psychopathology Lab. (April 2020)

  • The February issue of the APS Observer features a nice cover article (on "Perception and Cognition: Is there Really a Distinction?") that covers some of our lab's work (complete with an awkward photo), along with other research by Aude Oliva, Ned Block, John McGann, and Yael Niv. (February 2020)

  • For the 33rd Annual Julia Norton Babson Lecture at the Montclair Art Museum, Brian will be talking about "The science of seeing" as part of a live conversation with amazing sculptor Larry Kagan. (October 2019)

  • Congratulations to lab graduate student Clara Colombatto, who has been racking up the travel awards this year, in recognition of her research on social perception. First, she was selected to receive an Elsevier/Vision Research Travel Award from the Vision Sciences Society, for this past summer's meeting (where she presented her work on "Unconscious pupillometry: Faces with dilated pupils gain preferential access to visual awareness"). And just now she was selected to receive an OPAM 27 Travel Award from the Object Perception, Attention, & Memory meeting, for the upcoming conference in Montreal (where she'll be presenting her work on "Unconscious attentional contagion"). Kudos! (September 2019)

  • We're excited to welcome two new graduate students to our lab: Robert Walter and Kim Wong! Robert joins us from UCSD, where he studied visual working memory in Tim Brady's lab. He is interested in exploring various issues at the intersection of philosophy and psychology, and is a member of Yale's joint Psychology/Philosophy PhD program. (Congratulations to Robert for winning a 2019 Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation!) Kim joins us from Johns Hopkins, where she studied the perception of writing in Mike McCloskey's lab. She is interested in many topics in visual perception and cognition, from causality to inattentional blindness. (Kim is the first incoming graduate student Brian has ever had whose published work he had already taught to hundreds of students in his Intro to Cognitive Science course -- without even knowing she was an undergraduate!) We are so excited to have these new colleagues and perspectives with us! (September 2019)

  • Next semester (Spring 2020), Brian and Laurie Paul are excited to be co-teaching a new seminar at the intersection of psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science: Metaphysics Meets Cognitive Science. We'll be exploring topics such as time, causality, objects, and the self -- with a special focus on underexplored synergy between the empirical and philosophical work on such topics. You can check out a provisional syllabus. (September 2019)

  • Exciting: Former lab graduate student Ben van Buren has just launched his own lab in NYC at the New School for Social Research! (September 2019)

  • Later this month, on 7/25, Brian will give a public talk in Philadelphia for One Day University, titled Do my eyes deceive me? The science of visual awareness. This talk is part of an exciting line-up of speakers that also features Kenneth Miller and Heather Berlin. (July 2019)

  • Congratulations to former lab graduate student and current collaborator Stefan Uddenberg, who has been selected to receive an NEI Early Career Scientist Travel Grant to support his visit next month to the Vision Sciences Society -- where he'll be presenting his work with our lab on "The speed of demography in face perception"! (April 2019)

  • Congratulations to visiting undergraduate Rui Zhe Goh, who has been selected to receive a Summer Research Program grant from Yale-NUS College in Singapore, to fund his continued explorations of social perception in our lab over the coming summer! (March 2019)

Lab News Archive


 
Faculty
 
Brian Scholl (Email, Personal Homepage, CV)
Lab Director, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science
 
Brian's recent research interests include:
 
• Visual awareness
• Mental primitives and core knowledge
• How seeing relates to thinking
• How the mind represents objects and events
• The perception of causality, agency, physics, and time
• Foundations of cognitive science
• Sea-kayaking as a tool for procrastination
 
Graduate Students
 
Clara Colombatto (Email, Personal Homepage)
Lab Graduate Student
 
Clara, who hails from Italy (via Duke University), is exploring the visual roots of social cognition. In one line of research, she is showing how effects previously attributed to eye contact actually reflect a broader phenomenon of 'mind contact'. In another, she is demonstrating how early visual processing may influence moral judgment in unexpected ways. In yet another, she is exploring how we extract social information from faces. Her Italian keyboards confuse Brian.
 
Joan Ongchoco (Email, Personal Homepage)
Lab Graduate Student
 
Joan is exploring how dynamic visual event representations structure our mental lives. Her recent work involves event segmentation, enumeration, musical sequences, visual working memory, 'scaffolded attention', and exceptionally long doorways. She has one recent paper titled "Did that just happen?" and another titled "How to create objects with your mind". Joan hails from the Phillipines (via Yale-NUS College), and she has been known to dance occasionally.
 
Robert Walter (Email)
Lab Graduate Student
 
Robert recently joined our lab via Yale's joint Philosophy/Psychology PhD program, and he is exploring interactions between empirical research and issues in philosophy -- with a current focus on the phenomenon of postdiction. Before Yale, he earned degrees in Neuroscience and Philosophy at UCSD, where he studied visual working memory in Tim Brady's lab. Before that, he owned an exotic pet store and worked as an animal wrangler. Need advice for your pet tarantula? He's the one to ask.
 
Kim Wong (Email)
Lab Graduate Student
 
Kim is exploring several topics in visual perception and cognition -- especially the perception of physics, the extraction of causal history in visual processing, and the nature of dynamic visual routines. Before Yale, Kim studied the perception of writing as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins (work that Brian taught in his "Intro to CogSci" class even before meeting her). She has now developed an inexplicable love for the letters A and G, but also an irrational hatred of the capital letter E.
 
Affiliates
 
Mario Belledonne
Graduate Student, Cognitive & Neural Computation Lab
 
As a child, Mario watched a lot of cartoons. Some had people, others animals, and still others aliens -- and this world of cartoons often violated what we see as natural in our own world. Today, he studies the underlying computational substrates that allow humans to bridge the gap between 2D drawings and physical 3D scenes. He hails from MIT (where he worked with Josh Tenenbaum on face processing and intuitive physics), and with us (and in collaboration with Ilker Yildirim) he is developing a exciting new computational model of attention based on the notion of rational resource allocation.
 
Marlene Berke
Graduate Student, Computational Social Cognition Lab
 
Marlene studies metacognition -- the ability of a system to represent and reason about itself. With us, she is exploring the phenomenon of mental imagery. Before Yale, she pursued an interdisciplinary major in computational cognitive neuroscience at Cornell University. When she's not trying to think about minds thinking about minds, Marlene can be found tending to her sourdough starter named Clarisse, to her SCOBY named Scoby, and to her countless and hence nameless houseplants.
 
Vlad Chituc (Personal Homepage)
Graduate Student, Crockett Lab
 
Vlad does empirical work at the intersection of philosophy and psychology, studying how moral judgments influence things like aesthetic evaluations of art and perceptions of personal identity. With us, he is exploring how social information in faces influences the perception of identity and change. Vlad also went to college at Yale, but then spent 5 years at Duke, working in a behavioral economics lab and playing music in punk bands. He has a very good dog.
 
Kat Graves
Graduate Student, Turk-Browne Lab
 
Kat studies the flexibility and durability of memory representations, and with us she is exploring how attending to faces influences memory for the context in which those faces are experienced. Before Yale, Kat studied cognitive control with David Badre (as an undergrad at Brown), and reinforcement learning and pun processing with Sharon Thompson-Schill (as an RA at UPenn). Outside of research, Kat proudly serves as a resident social justice warrior.
 
Qi Lin
Graduate Student, Visual Cognitive Neuroscience Lab
 
Qi studies the factors that influence the ultimate fates of memory traces. With us, she is exploring the properties that determine how memorable images are, with a special focus on the possibility of purely visual memorability in the absence of semantic content (which she studies by exploring memories for phase-scrambled images). Before Yale, Qi studied the flexibility of emotional memory while working in college with Liz Phelps and later as an RA with Daniela Schiller. She also enjoys telling stories.
 
Michael Lopez-Brau
Graduate Student, Computational Social Cognition Lab
 
Michael is studying the computations that underlie our ability to navigate the social world. With us, he is exploring some fascinating links between the perception of order and the perception of agency. Before Yale, he double-majored in electrical engineering and extreme humidity studies at the University of Central Florida. When he's not trying to invoke the singularity, you can find Michael rambling about fake news in some surprising places.
 
Undergraduates
 
Conor Downey
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 
Conor is studying Philosophy and Cognitive Science, with particular interests in the cognitive science of morality and social perception. In the lab, Conor is aiming to upend our understanding of race/gender stereotyping, and he is also investigating the influence of early visual processing on moral judgment. Other researchers in the lab have been inspired by Conor's hair to explore how attention is automatically drawn to the apparent subversion of physical laws.
 
Jun Kwak
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 
Jun is exploring connections between intuitive physics, perception, and memory -- often studying just how people can tell at a glance how stable a tower of blocks is. In his free time, he does basically everything related to soccer -- playing it, watching it, and occasionally even traveling to Europe for stadium tours and matches. Will he manipulate our lab into studying soccer/perception interactions? Stay tuned. Jun can be spotted once a week at a nearby Korean fried chicken restaurant.
 
Vivian Wang
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 
As Vivian begins her exploration of cognitive science, she is drawing inspiration from film, and is particularly interested in our perception of time and event segmentation. Recently, she showed how the mere anticipation of an event boundary is sufficient to effectively 'flush' visual working memory. For this work, she is spending much of her time designing elaborate virtual rooms and has quickly become our resident Sweet Home 3D enthusiast (not [yet] sponsored by Sweet Home 3D).
 
Lab Alumni
 
Stefan Uddenberg (Homepage)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2018)
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton, Psychology Dept., Todorov Lab
 
While in the lab from 2013 to 2018, Stefan explored the mind's 'default settings' by employing the method of serial reproduction in some exciting new ways with visual stimuli. This work led him to create the TeleFace and TelePhysics paradigms. Now a postdoc in Alex Todorov's lab, Stefan continues to work with us on the perception of both faces and physics.
 
Ben van Buren (Lab Page)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2018)
After Yale: Assistant Professor of Psychology, The New School for Social Research
 
While in the lab from 2013 to 2018, Ben studied social perception, including the perceived mental lives of moving geometric shapes. After his PhD, Ben headed to Leuven to do a postdoc with Johan Wagemans, after which he returned to the US to start up his own lab not too far away -- as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research in NYC.
 
Hannah Raila (Homepage)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2018)
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford, Psychiatry Dept., Rodriguez Lab
Currently: Assistant Professor of Psychology, UC Santa Cruz
 
While in the lab from 2013 to 2018, Hannah explored how attentional biases may underlie and maintain both positive emotion and psychopathology, and she showed that studies using IAPS photos replicate even when semantic content is stripped from the images. Now a UCSC professor, Hannah can probably jump higher than you can.
 
Yi-Chia Chen (Homepage)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2017)
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard, Psychology Dept., Alvarez Lab
Currently: Postdoctoral Fellow, UCLA, Psychology Dept., Lu Lab
 
While in the lab from 2012 to 2017, Yi-Chia studied the nature of aesthetic perception, and also how visual representations of objects incorporate the inferred past events that led them to look the way they do. Her papers have mysterious titles, such as The perception of history. Yi-Chia still has ~100 collaborations going on in the lab.
 
Chaz Firestone (Lab Page)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2017)
After Yale: Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins, Psychological & Brain Sciences
 
While in the lab from 2011 to 2017, Chaz studied how seeing and thinking do and do not interact -- and he also helped to jump-start the lab's now-booming work on the perception of physical stability. Chaz' papers with us always had humble, tentative titles -- such as Cognition does not affect perception. And Chaz has probably been further south than you have.
 
Emily Ward (Lab Page)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2016); Co-advised with Marvin Chun
After Yale: Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
 
While in the lab from 2010 to 2016, Emily studied the nature of visual awareness, especially in the context of amazing phenomena such as inattentional blindness, iconic memory, statistical perception, and ambiguous figures. And she did all this while leading a double life, studying the neural bases of visual perception in Marvin Chun's lab. Emily is now a professor back in Brian's home state of Wisconsin.
 
Brandon Liverence
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2013)
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern, Psychology Dept., Franconeri Lab
 
While in the lab from 2008 to 2013, Brandon studied the visual representation of time and space, in contexts including subjective time dilation, event segmentation, and the 'refresh rate' of perception. When one of his papers was accepted for publication, the Editor asked him to shorten it by 78%. To relax during grad school, Brandon vacationed inside Icelandic volcanos.
 
Alice Albrecht
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2013); Co-advised with Marvin Chun
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley, Psychology Dept, Whitney Lab
 
While in the lab from 2008 to 2013, Alice explored the nature of 'statistical summary representations' in perception, including the ability to rapidly and efficiently perceive average visual attributes across space and time, and in multiple modalities. Alice has also made other discoveries that are full of holes (exploring holes vs. objects in visual attention).
 
Tao Gao (Lab Page)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2011)
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Tenenbaum Lab
Currently: Assistant Professor, UCLA, Departments of Statistics + Communication
 
While in the lab from 2006 to 2011, Tao brought life to vision science, making many discoveries related to 'social vision' (in general) and to the perception of animacy (in particular). His papers have great titles (e.g. The Psychophysics of Chasing, The Wolfpack Effect) and one of them has a paragraph about assassins.
 
Nick Turk-Browne (Lab Page)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2009); Co-advised with Marvin Chun
After Yale: Assistant (then Full) Professor, Princeton University, Dept. of Psychology
Currently: Professor, Yale University, Department of Psychology
 
While in the lab from 2004 to 2009, Nick studied perception, learning, and attention, and made several discoveries related to visual statistical learning. Nick managed to escape and become a Professor at Princeton, but we eventually recaptured him and brought him back home.
 
Joshua New (Homepage)
P&C Lab: Postdoctoral Fellow (2005-2009)
After Yale: Assistant Professor, Barnard College, Department of Psychology
 
While in the lab from 2005 to 2009, Josh explored 'adaptive visual cognition' -- merging evolution psychology and vision science. This led to discoveries about the nature of visual awareness, motion-induced blindness, social perception in autism spectrum disorder, and subjective time dilation. Josh, now a Professor at Barnard, was a postdoc, so his picture gets a border.
 
Jonathan Flombaum (Lab Page)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2008)
After Yale: Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins, Dept. of Psych. & Brain Sciences
Currently: Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins, Dept. of Psych. & Brain Sciences
 
While in the lab from 2002 to 2008, Jon made several discoveries related to object persistence and visual tracking -- often studying both human adults and nonhuman primates -- and he resuscitated studies of the 'tunnel effect'. Jon, now a professor at Johns Hopkins, still hasn't learned to appreciate folk music.
 
Erik Cheries (Lab Page)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2007); Primary advisor, Karen Wynn
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University, Lab for Developmental Studies
Currently: Assistant Professor, UMass Amherst, Psychological and Brain Sciences
 
While in the lab from 2002 to 2007, Erik ran studies with both babies and adults exploring how the visual system selects, maintains, and identifies objects over time -- and how this provides a foundation for object cognition. Erik, now a professor at UMass Amherst, has more songs on his iPod than you do.
 
Hoon Choi
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2006)
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, Boston University, Watanabe Lab
Currently: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology, Hallym University
 
While in the lab from 2002 to 2006, Hoon made several discoveries related to causal perception, attention, and the mental representation of dynamic events. In case his picture here is too small to make out, here's a slightly bigger picture of Hoon. Hoon is now a professor back in South Korea.
 
Steve Mitroff (Lab Page)
P&C Lab: Postdoctoral Fellow (2002-2005)
After Yale: Assistant Professor, Duke University, Dept. of Psychology
Currently: Professor, George Washington University, Department of Psychology
 
While in the lab from 2002 to 2005, Steve made discoveries about visual awareness, motion-induced blindness, and object persistence -- studying both infants and adults. We miss him, though Brian is also happy to be free of Steve's strict ban on the use of obscure latin phrases in papers.
 
Collaborators
George Alvarez (Harvard University)
Dick Aslin (Haskins Laboratories)
Marvin Chun (Yale University)
Molly Crockett (Yale University)
Jacob Feldman (Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science)
Steve Franconeri (Northwestern University)
Jim Hoffman (University of Delaware)
Julian Jara-Ettinger (Yale University)
Marcia Johnson (Yale University)
Ami Klin (Emory University, Marcus Autism Center)
Marta Kryven (MIT)
Alan Leslie (Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science)
Greg McCarthy (Yale University)
Steve Most (University of New South Wales)
Ken Nakayama (Harvard University)
George Newman (Yale SoM)
Zenon Pylyshyn (Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science)
Laurie Santos (Yale University)
Bob Schultz (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Center for Autism Research)
Dan Simons (University of Illinois)
Josh Tenenbaum (MIT)
Teresa Treat (University of Iowa)
Karen Wynn (Yale University)
Do-Joon Yi (Yonsei University)
Ilker Yildirim (Yale University)
Steve Zucker (Yale University)
 
Neighbors
Action, Computation, & Thinking Lab (Sam McDougle)
Affect Regulation & Cognition Lab (Jutta Joorman)
Automaticity Lab (John Bargh)
Baby Lab (Dick Aslin)
Belief, Learning, & Memory Lab (Phil Corlett)
Cognition & Development Lab (Frank Keil)
Cognitive & Neural Computation Lab (Ilker Yildirim)
Comparative Cognition Lab (Laurie Santos)
Computational Social Cognition Lab (Julian Jara-Ettinger)
Computational Vision Group (Steve Zucker)
Consumer Decision Making Lab (Ravi Dhar, Nathan Novemsky)
Crockett Lab (Molly Crockett)
Experimental Philosophy Group (Joshua Knobe)
Human Neuroscience Lab (Greg McCarthy)
Mind & Development Lab (Paul Bloom)
Philosophical Psychology (Tamar Gendler)
Rutledge Lab (Robb Rutledge)
Social Cognitive Development Lab (Yarrow Dunham)
Social Neuroscience Lab (Steve Chang)
Social Robotics Lab (Brian Scassellati)
Thinking Lab (Woo-Kyoung Ahn)
Turk-Browne Lab (Nick Turk-Browne)
Visual Cognitive Neuroscience Lab (Marvin Chun)
 

 
Affiliate and Undergraduate Alumni




 
Want to join the team?
If you're interested in joining the lab, please send a note to Brian Scholl by email. Undergraduates who are interested in RA positions might want to check out this information page. Note that this is not our lab logo.  
 

 
Some of the material on this webpage, and those it links to, is based on work supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Office of Naval Research. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of these agencies.