Jin wins Harold Stirling Vanderbilt Fellowship

Posted on Apr 29, 2024

Congratulations to Jin Jeong on winning a Harold Stirling Vanderbilt Fellowship to supplement his support in years four and five as a graduate student the Psychological Sciences PhD program. Jin previously was awarded a University Graduate Fellowship to supplement his support in his first three years. Congratulations Jin!

Tom Elected Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists (SEP)

Posted on Dec 19, 2023

Tom has been elected as a Fellow of the the Society of Experimental Psychologists (SEP). SEP is the oldest scientific society in the field, started by Titchener over a century ago, and election is a signal honor. Other departmental faculty who are Fellows of SEP are Randolph Blake, Isabel Gauthier, Gordon Logan, and Jon Kaas.

The first meeting of the Society of Experimental Psychologists … was held at Cornell University in 1904. The meetings then, and for many years thereafter, were presided over by Edward Bradford Titchener. Researchers from universities including Cornell, Yale, Clark, Michigan, and Princeton attended these early meetings, with Chicago and Iowa soon joining. Research papers were read and discussed by established researchers and tyros alike. As the number of practicing experimental psychologists grew nationally, along grew discussions concerning the limits that should be placed on membership in the group: Should it be kept small to ensure a manageable series of conferences; or should it be open to all interested, practicing experimental psychologists? The decision was made to keep it small-to follow the so-called Academy model-and eventually Fellows of the society were instrumental in the founding of an alternative organization, called The Psychonomic Society, to serve the needs of broader representation and communication.

The meetings were kept small and brief, just one and half days of sessions, and continued their emphases on communication of ongoing research and the open exchange of ideas among active researchers. In the original bylaws of 1929, the purpose of the Society was stated simply as follows: “To advance Psychology by arranging informal conferences on experimental methodology.” Methodology had been an important focus of the Experimentalists, where visits to laboratories and the demonstration of equipment during meetings were actively encouraged. As the Society’s evolved interest in methodology waned, it was replaced by interest in theory and data.

Jenn Richler wins Distinguished Alumnus Award

Posted on Dec 12, 2023

Congratulations to Jenn Richler on winning the Psychological Sciences at Vanderbilt Distinguished Alumnus Award! Jenn received her PhD working with Tom Palmeri and Isabel Gauthier where her research focused on face and object perception and recognition, learning, attention, and memory. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt where she also worked as an Associate Editor for Journal of Experimental: Psychology: General and a writer for the American Psychological Association, Jenn chose to move into a scientific publishing career. Jenn joined Nature Climate Change and Nature Energy in 2016 as a Senior Editor handling manuscripts that spanned the behavioral and social sciences. Jenn returned to her psychology roots as the launch Chief Editor of Nature Reviews Psychology in 2021.

To recognize and honor the distinguished alumni of Psychological Sciences at Vanderbilt, we have established the Distinguished Alumnus Lecture. The recipient is a former undergraduate, graduate student, or postdoctoral fellow from the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Science or the Department of Psychology and Human Development in Peabody College at Vanderbilt who has made major contributions to the psychological sciences. The recipient will receive a $500 honorarium and will be invited to give the Distinguish Alumnus Lecture.

Greg Cox wins William K. Estes Early Career Award

Posted on Sep 17, 2023

Former postdoctoral fellow Greg Cox wins the William K. Estes Early Career Award from the Society for Mathematical Psychology. Greg is now an Assistant Professor at the University at Albany. Congratulations Greg!

The Society for Mathematical Psychology presents an annual award for exceptional published research in the field of mathematical psychology by an early career investigator. Previously known as the “New Investigator Award,” it was renamed after William K. Estes in 2009, recognizing his contributions to our Society and the field of mathematical psychology generally.

Tom to become Department Chair

Posted on Jun 19, 2023

In August 2022, Tom stepped up to become Director of Graduate Studies for the third time for what was supposed to be a three-year term. With Tim McNamara moving from department chair to interim dean of the College of Arts and Science, Tom was asked to step into the role of Chair of the Department of Psychology for a three-year term beginning in July 2023.

Jason Chow wins 2023 Pat Burns Memorial Graduate Student Research Award

Posted on May 11, 2023

Congratulations to Jason for winning the 2023 Pat Burns Memorial Graduate Student Research Award.

Pat Burns touched generations of doctoral students during her nearly four decades of service to Vanderbilt University. In memory of her tireless efforts to help guide our students through all phases of their graduate education, the Department of Psychology establishes a Graduate Student Research Award to recognize outstanding achievement in research by our most outstanding graduate students. The recipient receives a plaque and a $500 award.

Jason was recognized for his outstanding research. His nomination noted that “Jason is exceptionally creative and talented”. “He has breadth and depth, a great collaborator, writer and teacher, and a very productive graduate student”. “He will certainly make this program proud for years and years to come.”

Congratulations Jason!

Story describing some of our expertise work on birding appears in Audubon Magazine

Posted on Apr 1, 2023

An article titled “Yes, Birding Does Change Your Brain” appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Audubon Magazine:


Amir joins the lab

Posted on Dec 1, 2022

Amirsaman Sajad joined the collaboration with Gordon Logan and Jeffrey Schall as a Research Assistant Professor in December 2022. Amir did his PhD in Toronto and did postdoctoral work in primate neurophysiology at Vanderbilt. His recent work has focused on dissecting the neural circuitry serving performance monitoring and adaptive behavior, and on linking this to non-invasive electrophysiological biomarkers. He joined the collaboration to extend his computational expertise and integrate decision-making modeling with models of performance monitoring and cognitive control. His scientific mission is to discover the building blocks of cognition and their biomarkers and translate this knowledge to real-world applications.

New Psychological Review article: Salience by Competitive and Recurrent Interactions

Posted on Feb 22, 2022

Our major new theoretical paper has been accepted for publication in Psychological Review: Cox, G.E., Palmeri, T.J., Logan, G.D., Smith, P.L., Schall, J.D. (in press). Salience by competitive and recurrent interactions: Bridging neural spiking and computation in visual attention. Psychological Review. PsyArXiv: https://psyarxiv.com/rkh8g/

Decisions about where to move the eyes depend on neurons in Frontal Eye Field (FEF). Movement neurons in FEF accumulate salience evidence derived from FEF visual neurons to select the location of a saccade target among distractors. How visual neurons achieve this salience representation is unknown. We present a neuro-computational model of target selection called Salience by Competitive and Recurrent Interactions (SCRI), based on the Competitive Interaction model of attentional selection and decision making (Smith & Sewell, 2013). SCRI selects targets by synthesizing localization and identification information to yield a dynamically evolving representation of salience across the visual field. SCRI accounts for neural spiking of individual FEF visual neurons, explaining idiosyncratic differences in neural dynamics with specific parameters. Many visual neurons resolve the competition between search items through feedforward inhibition between signals representing different search items, some also require lateral inhibition, and many act as recurrent gates to modulate the incoming flow of information about stimulus identity. SCRI was tested further by using simulated spiking representations of visual salience as input to the Gated Accumulator Model of FEF movement neurons (Purcell et al., 2010; Purcell, Schall, Logan, & Palmeri, 2012). Predicted saccade response times fit those observed for search arrays of different set size and different target-distractor similarity, and accumulator trajectories replicated movement neuron discharge rates. These findings offer new insights into visual decision making through converging neuro-computational constraints and provide a novel computational account of the diversity of FEF visual neurons.

New Papers

Posted on Feb 16, 2022

Cox, G.E., Palmeri, T.J., Logan, G.D., Smith, P.L., & Schall, J.D. (in press). Spiking, salience, and saccades: Using cognitive models to bridge the gap between “how” and “why”. In B. Forstmann & B.M. Turner (Eds.), An Introduction to Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience (2nd Ed.), Springer Neuroscience.

Chow, J.K., Palmeri, T.J., Mack, M.L. (in press). Revealing a competitive dynamic in rapid categorization with object substitution masking. Attention, Perception, & Performance.

Carrigan, A.J., Charlton, A., Wiggins, M.W., Georgiou, A., Palmeri, T.J., & Curby, K.M. (in press). Cue utilisation reduces the impact of response bias in histopathology. Applied Ergonomics.

Chow, J.K., Palmeri, T.J., Gauthier, I. (in press). Haptic object recognition based on shape relates to visual object recognition ability. Psychological Research.

Chow, J.K., Palmeri, T.J., Gauthier, I. (in press). Visual object recognition ability is not related to experience with visual arts. Journal of Vision.

Carrigan, A.J., Charlton, A., Foucar, E., Wiggins, M., Georgiou, A., Palmeri, T.J., & Curby, K. (in press). The role of cue based strategies in skilled diagnosis amongst pathologists. Human Factors.