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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 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 former lab graduate student Clara Colombatto, who was just awarded the James B. Grossman Dissertation Prize, given annually to the best doctoral dissertation in Psychology at Yale! Clara received this well-deserved honor for her dissertation (successfully defended late last year) on From eyes to minds: Perceiving perception and attending to attention. We were lucky that Clara -- er, Dr. Colombatto! -- was able to stick around Yale as a postdoctoral fellow afterwards, but soon she'll be off to do a second postdoc with Steve Fleming's Metacognitive Neuroscience Lab at University College London. We'll remember her fun goodbye dinner and the hit music video that her dissertation work inspired! (June 2022)

  • The lab had a blast at VSS 2022 -- finally in person again! (May 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)

  • We're excited to welcome a new graduate student to our lab: Merve Erdogan! Merve joins us from Koc University (and previously Bogazici University) in Turkey, where she worked in Fuat Balci's Timing & Decision Making Lab. She is already taking us in exciting new directions here at Yale, as she is exploring new research topics including temporal recalibration and connections between causal perception and causal reasoning. We are excited to have this new colleague and perspective with us! (September 2021)

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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)

Lab News Archive

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
Merve Erdogan (Email)
Lab Graduate Student
Merve recently 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. In her spare time, Merve gets inspired by watching her fingers moving. Brian's pronunciation of her name is getting better every day.
Huichao Ji (Email, Personal Homepage)
Lab Graduate Student
Huichao joined our lab this year from Sun Yat-sen University in China. She is interested in many topics in visual perception and cognition, from visual awareness, to social perception, to 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 of these topics and more.) Outside (or maybe even inside) the lab, you might see her walking around with her camera.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
Jack Dewey
Visiting Student
Jack is exploring the boundary between event perception and event cognition, with a focus on how both visual and semantic event representations are maintained and updated in memory. Previously a master's student in religion at Yale, Jack is now pursuing a degree in computer science at Northeastern, concentrating on graphics and artificial intelligence. In the meantime, he somehow convinced Brian to let him stick around the lab and try his hand at perceptual psychology.
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.
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.
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
Clara Colombatto (Homepage)
P&C Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2021)
After Yale: Postdoctoral Fellow, University College London, Fleming Lab
While in the lab from 2016 to 2022, Clara explored social perception, with a special focus on "perceiving perception" and "attending to attention". Her work showed how many effects previously attributed to eye contact are actually due to mind 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
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.
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 (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 (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)
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)
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, and the Office of Naval Research. 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.