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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 News
  • We're excited to welcome a new postdoctoral fellow to our group: Dawei Bai! Dawei recently earned his PhD from the Ecole Normale Superieure, where he worked in Brent Strickland's lab. Dawei is the creator of the Double Ring Illusion, and has already studied all sorts of fascinating topics, including the perception of physical solidity, the perception of gravity, and the nature of core knowledge. With us, he plans to explore connections between intuitive physics and social perception. (October 2023)

  • The lab had a fun Broadway excursion! (June 2023)

  • Congratulations to current lab postdoctoral fellow (and former lab graduate student from 2017-2022) Joan Ongchoco, who was just awarded the James B. Grossman Dissertation Prize, given annually to the best doctoral dissertation in Psychology at Yale! Joan received this well-deserved honor for her dissertation on The continuous vs. the discrete in mental life: Studies in perception, attention, and decision-making. Stay tuned for several other papers from this award-winning dissertation, which will appear soon! (May 2023)

  • The lab had a fabulous time at VSS 2023! (May 2023)

  • Yet more exciting job news: Congratulations to lab postdoc (and lab graduate student from 2017 to 2022) Joan Ongchoco, who has just accepted a tenure-track appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia! Joan will start up her own lab there in the fall of 2024 (if we let her go). (Another example of "one door closing, and another door opening" -- per the amazing congratulatory video made by her labmates when she earned her Ph.D. last year!) (March 2023)

  • More exciting job news: Congratulations to former lab graduate student (from 2016 to 2021) Clara Colombatto, who has just accepted a tenure-track appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo! Clara will move (from her current postdoc position with Steve Fleming at UCL) to start up her own lab there in January, 2024. (And stay tuned for some exciting new collaborative papers coming out soon on the perception of attention!) We'll remember her fun goodbye dinner and the hit music video that her dissertation work inspired! (March 2023)

  • Exciting job news: Congratulations to former lab graduate student Stefan Uddenberg, who has just accepted a tenure-track appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign! Stefan will move (from his current postdoc position with Alex Todorov at the University of Chicago) to start up his own lab there in the fall of 2024. (And we also have some exciting new collaborative papers coming out soon on perception and intuitive physics!) (March 2023)

  • Congratulations to lab graduate student Kim Wong, who has received a 2023 National Eye Institute Early Career Scientist Travel Grant to help support her trip to this summer's Vision Sciences Society meeting. At VSS, Kim will be presenting on projects involving (1) the memories that are formed by dynamic visual routines, (2) how the "unfinishedness" of dynamic events is spontaneously extracted in visual processing (in a new type of 'Visual Zeigarnik Effect'; with Joan Ongchoco), (3) how event boundaries can be formed even by unnoticed changes in implicit visual statistics (with Pranava Dhar and Joan Ongchoco), and (4) how we perceive precarity (beyond instability) in block towers (with Aalap Shah). (March 2023)

  • Brian was excited to give an invited talk this month -- on "Regularity, multiple realizability, and a naive metaphysics of computation" -- at the Metaphysics of Computation session at the annual meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association in Pittsburgh. We had some fun interdisciplinary interactions with fellow panelists including Laurie Paul, Jonathan Schaffer, and Josh Tenenbaum. (November 2022)

  • We're excited to welcome a new graduate student to our lab: Huichao Ji! Huichao joins us from Sun Yat-sen University in China, where she worked in Xiaowei Ding's lab. She claims to be just starting a PhD program this month, but Brian suspects that she may actually be a tenured professor who is playing a trick on him: somehow, she has already published papers on topics including visual awareness, visual search, top-down effects on perception, and visual affordances -- oh, and a first-authored paper in JEP:HPP last year on attention and biological motion. So Brian hopes that Yale won't give her a PhD for at least a year or two, so that we can do some research together first! (August 2022)

  • Congratulations to lab graduate student Kim Wong, who has just received a Prize Teaching Fellowship in recognition of her amazing abilities and accomplishments as a teaching fellow. This is a huge honor (and comes with a nice payday!), which relatively few Psychology students have won over the years. Quoting the prize announcement: "This award, which recognizes your outstanding talent for our central common activity, is one of the highest honors that a graduate student can attain at Yale." Hooray! (May 2022)

  • This semester, Brian and Laurie Paul are excited to be co-teaching a seminar at the intersection of psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science: Metaphysics Meets Cognitive Science. We'll be exploring the intersection of psychological and philosophical work on several core issues in our fields -- including the nature (in both the mind and the world) of space, time, objects, events, causality, and persistence. For this semester, the seminar will also be serving as the Shulman Seminar in Science and the Humanities, and as part of this, several eminent colleagues will be visiting the course, and also delivering public talks to the wider Yale community. These visitors will include David Chalmers, Ian Phillips, Liz Spelke, and Josh Tenenbaum. (January 2022)

  • Congratulations to several former lab members and affiliates who are starting up their own labs now/soon! Jonathan Kominsky, who with our lab pioneered the study of causal perception(s) with retinotopic adaptation (as in his 2020 Cognition paper), will be starting up a lab at the CEU's Cognitive Development Center in 2022. And some former undergraduate RAs have also just started up their own labs: Alex White has just started up his own lab as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior at Barnard College, and Julian de Freitas has just started as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School. (Brian is psyched about this, even though it's starting to make him feel old as more of his former undergraduate collaborators become professors.) (August 2021)

  • Congratulations to lab graduate student Joan Ongchoco, who has won the 2021 William James Prize for the best graduate student project presented at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology -- for her work on Figments of imagination: 'Scaffolded attention' creates non-sensory object and event representations! Stay tuned for several exciting new papers on this phenomenon. (It is also especially meaningful to Brian to have another student from our lab win this prize, since this was the very first award that he ever received in his career -- now more than two decades ago!) (July 2021)


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
 
Postdoctoral Fellows
 
Dawei Bai (Email, Personal Homepage)
Lab Postdoctoral Fellow
 
Dawei joins us from Paris, where he worked with Brent Strickland and completed his PhD at the Ecole Normale Superieure. He has explored both intuitive physics and social perception, and with us he'll be exploring their intersection -- how we perceive agent/ object interactions. For a neat demo of his past work, check out the Double Ring illusion! In his spare time, Dawei is a cinephile, who cannot imagine a week without movies. (Brian wonders if this includes the greatest movie of all time, Roadhouse?)
 
Graduate Students
 
Vlad Chituc (Email, Personal Homepage)
Lab Graduate Student
 
Vlad does empirical work at the intersection of philosophy and psychology, studying everything from morality, to art, to supertasters. With us, he is exploring how insights from visual psychophysics can improve measurement in moral psychology and beyond -- with his latest paper titled How to show that a cruel prank is worse than a war crime. Vlad also went to college at Yale (before working for many years in a behavioral economics lab at Duke), and took a course from Brian in 2009!
 
Merve Erdogan (Email)
Lab Graduate Student
 
Merve joined our lab from Turkey, where she worked on both psychophysical and neuroscientific projects with Fuat Balci in the Timing and Decision-Making Laboratory at Koc University. She is interested in the perception of agency, causality, and time -- and especially how they all interact in unexpected ways. Her current work explores domain-specificity in vision, as psychophysically captured by studies of slow visual cognition. In her spare time, Merve gets inspired by watching her fingers moving.
 
Huichao Ji (Email, Personal Homepage)
Lab Graduate Student
 
Huichao joined our lab from Sun Yat-sen University in China. She is interested in visual awareness, social perception, and the relationship(s) between seeing and thinking. (She claims to be just starting out as a PhD student, but Brian is suspicious, given that she has already published papers on all these topics and more!) Her latest lab paper is titled Visual verbs. Outside (or maybe even inside) the lab, you might see her walking around with her camera.
 
Robert Walter (Email)
Lab Graduate Student
 
Robert is getting a joint PhD in Philosophy and Psychology, and 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 has developed an 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 conducting evolutionary simulations to reveal the degree to which our percepts faithfully reflect the external world. Before Yale, she pursued an interdisciplinary major in computational cognitive neuroscience at Cornell University. When she's not thinking about minds thinking about minds, Marlene can be found tending to her sourdough starter named Clarisse.
 
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.
 
Aalap Shah
Graduate Student, Cognitive & Neural Computation Lab
 
Aalap develops hypotheses for how brains process sensory information, and he uses computational models to explain/verify them. With us, he is exploring several intriguing aspects of intuitive physics. Before Yale, he received a bachelor's degree in computer science, and a masters degree in robotics -- before switching domains to study the ways of the mind and the brain. (He also worked as a software engineer, and represented his company at a special edition of Shark Tank!).
 
Yuting Zhang
Graduate Student, Cognitive & Neural Computation Lab
 
Yuting is broadly interested in human attention, perception, and memory. With us, among other topics, she is exploring connections between social perception and event representation -- including how the phenomenology of chasing influences event segmentation. Before Yale, Yuting earned a BS in Psychology from Boston College. She dreams of becoming a pro Dota2 player, but for now just gets research ideas while being chased by enemies.
 
Undergraduates
 
Pranava Dhar
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 
At Yale, Pranava is studying Cognitive Science with a splash of philosophy, computer science, and Italian. In the lab, his research is a bit wobbly: he is exploring intersections between perception and intuitive physics, focused on the perception of physical (in)stability in stimuli such as block towers. He is distraught about the lab's move to 100 College, as this means that he will be more than a stone's throw from home in TD -- allegedly the best residential college.
 
Vivian Wang
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 
Vivian's exploration of cognitive science has drawn inspiration from film, and she is particularly interested in our perception of time and event segmentation. Recently, she showed (in a first-authored paper to appear in PB&R) how the mere anticipation of an event boundary is sufficient to effectively 'flush' visual working memory. For this work, she spent (too) much of her time designing elaborate virtual rooms and she quickly became our resident Sweet Home 3D enthusiast.
 
Lab Alumni
 
Joan Ongchoco (Lab Page)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2022) + Postdoctoral Fellow (2022-2023)
Next up: Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of British Columbia (in Fall 2024)
 
While in the lab from 2017 to 2023, Joan discovered the phenomenon of scaffolded attention, and explored the nature of event segmentation. Joan will be starting her own lab at UBC in 2024, and her work there may continue to involve event segmentation, in the form of walking through doorways -- as in the amazing congratulatory video produced by her labmates when she earned her PhD.
 
Clara Colombatto (Homepage)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2021)
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, University College London, Fleming Lab
Currently: Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Waterloo
 
While in the lab from 2016 to 2022, Clara explored social perception, with a special focus on "perceiving perception" and "attending to attention", in the form of mind contact (beyond eye contact). Her stimuli often involved people looking at each other (and away from each other), as in this congratulatory video from her labmates.
 
Stefan Uddenberg (Homepage)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2018)
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton, Psychology Dept., Todorov Lab
Next up: Assistant Professor of Psychology, U of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (in Fall 2024)
 
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. 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 of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins
 
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 then became 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 of Statistics + Communication, UCLA
 
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 of Psychology, Princeton University
Currently: Professor of Psychology, Yale University
 
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 of Psychology, Barnard College
 
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, who later became 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 of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins
Currently: Associate Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins
 
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 of Psychological and Brain Sciences, UMass Amherst
 
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, who then became 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: Associate Professor 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 of Psychology, Duke University
Currently: Professor of Psychology, George Washington University
 
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.
 
Current and Former Collaborators
George Alvarez (Harvard University)
Dick Aslin (Haskins Laboratories)
Ty Cannon (Yale University)
Marvin Chun (Yale University)
Phil Corlett (Yale School of Medicine)
Molly Crockett (Princeton 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)
Alan Leslie (Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science)
Greg McCarthy (Yale University)
Steve Most (University of New South Wales)
Ken Nakayama (Harvard University)
George Newman (Rotman School of Management)
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)
Brain & Cognition Lab (Kia Nobre)
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)
Experimental Philosophy Group (Joshua Knobe)
Human Neuroscience Lab (Greg McCarthy)
Infant Mind & Cognition Lab (Nicolo Cesana-Arlotti)
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 website is based on work supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research, and the Templeton Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of these agencies.