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Category Laboratory at Vanderbilt

supported by NSF, NEI, and Vanderbilt University

In the CatLab, we study visual cognition, including visual categorization, visual memory, and visual decision making. We study how objects are perceived and represented by the visual system, how visual knowledge is represented and learned, and how visual decisions are made. We approach these questions using a combination of behavioral experiments, cognitive neuroscience techniques, and computational and neural modeling. One line of work, funded by the National Science Foundation, investigates the temporal dynamics of visual object categorization and perceptual expertise for objects and faces. Another line of work, funded by the National Eye Institute, uses computational modeling of visual decision making to predict behavioral dynamics and neural dynamics.


New NSF Grant

Posted on Jun 3, 2013

The National Science Foundation has officially awarded our lab a new grant entitled “Perceptual Categorization in Real-World Expertise”. Now the work begins.

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Congratulations to Alan Wong

Posted on May 22, 2013

Congrats to former CatLab graduate student Alan Wong,

who just earned tenure at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Well deserved!

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Braden Purcell wins the Pat Burns Memorial Graduate Student Research Award

Posted on Apr 24, 2013

Congratulations to Braden Purcell for winning the The 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.

Along with Michael Mack and Jennifer Richler, this makes the third CatLab member to win this prestigious award.

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Jonathan Folstein accepts faculty position at Florida State University

Posted on Apr 9, 2013

Jonathan Folstein, a recent postdoctoral fellow in the

CatLab and OPL, has accepted a faculty position in psychology at Florida State University. Congratulations Dr. Folstein!

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Recent papers

Posted on Jan 9, 2013

Ross, D.A., Deroche, M., & Palmeri, T.J. (accepted, pending final revisions). Not just the norm: Exemplar-based models also predict face aftereffects. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Richler, J.J., Palmeri, T.J., & Gauthier, I. (in press). Meanings, mechanisms, and measures of holistic processing. Frontiers in Perception Science.

Richler, J.J., Palmeri, T.J., & Gauthier, I. (in press). How does using object names influence visual recognition memory? Journal of Memory and Language.

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Braden Purcell accepted to CSHL summer course

Posted on Apr 25, 2012

Braden Purcell has been accepted to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory summer course in Computational Neuroscience: Vision. This is a highly competitive program. Congratulations to Braden on this outstanding accomplishment.

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New faces joining the lab

Posted on Apr 5, 2012

Jianhong Chen is joining the lab this fall as a new graduate student in Psychological Sciences. Jianhong is getting her undergraduate degree from Peking University, one of the top three universities in China, where she worked with professor Fang Fang. Her research at PKU focused on adaptation, perceptual learning and EEG. For her graduate study, she is interested in perceptual expertise.

We also have two undergraduates working in the laboratory this summer on research fellowships. Billy Bunce will work with Jenn Richler and Mike Mack on a project modeling perceptual expertise. Akash Umakantha will work with Braden Purcell on neural models of perceptual decision making.

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Congratulations Dr. Ross!

Posted on Mar 6, 2012

Congratulations to David Ross for successfully passing the oral defense of his PhD thesis

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from Cardiff University. Well done Dr. Ross!

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Tim Vickery takes faculty position at the University of Delaware

Posted on Mar 2, 2012

Tim Vickery worked in the lab as an undergraduate and as a research assistant before going on to earn his PhD

in psychology at Harvard with Yuhong Jiang. Tim is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University with Marvin Chun. Tim just accepted a faculty position at the University of Delaware. Congratulations Tim!

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New paper to appear in Cerebral Cortex

Posted on Feb 21, 2012

Congratulations to Jonathan Folstein on our new paper to appear in Cerebral Cortex:

Folstein, J., Palmeri, T.J., Gauthier, I (2012). Category learning increases discriminability of relevant object dimensions in visual cortex. Cerebral Cortex. [PDF]

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A couple of recent papers from the CatLab

Posted on Jan 17, 2012

Purcell, B.A., Schall, J.D., Logan, G.D., & Palmeri, T.J. (in press). Gated stochastic accumulator model of visual search. Journal of Neuroscience. [PDF]

Folstein, J., Gauthier, I., & Palmeri, T.J. (in press). Not all morph spaces stretch alike: How category learning affects object perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. [PDF]

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NSF Renews TDLC center grant

Posted on Nov 4, 2011

The Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC) recently received renewal of funding from the National Science Foundation with a five year $18 million grant. The TDLC, one of six Science of Learning Centers funded by NSF, provides core support for the Perceptual Expertise Network (PEN). PEN is co-directed by Palmeri and Gauthier, who also sit on the Executive Committee for the TDLC.

A story on the funding renewal appears here:

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