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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.


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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Mike Mack wins Jum Nunnally Dissertation Award!

Posted on Sep 20, 2011

Michael Mack is the 2011 winner of the Jum Nunnally Dissertation Award.

The Jum Nunnally Dissertation Award recognizes a recent outstanding doctoral dissertation in the Department of Psychology. The recipient receives a certificate and a $500 award. Mike's thesis was nothing short of excellent, and well deserving of this award.

Jum Nunnally came to Vanderbilt in 1960. In 1961, he became the second chair of the department. He served as chair from 1961-1964 and again from 1967-1970. Under Jum’s leadership, the department grew substantially in stature, including significant increases in both the number and quality of the faculty. A memorial fund to support student awards was established in 1982 by his friends and family. Proceeds from this fund were used to establish the Jum Nunnally Dissertation Award in 2010.

This makes the second CatLab PhD to win this prestigious award. Jenn Richler was co-winner of the award in 2010.

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New Grant from NIH

Posted on Aug 2, 2011

Palmeri, Logan, and Schall have been awarded a new grant from the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, entitled Stochastic Models of Visual Search.

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Recent papers from the CatLab

Posted on Jun 25, 2011

Schall, J.D., Purcell, B.A., Heitz, R.P., Logan, G.D., & Palmeri, T.J. (2011). Neural mechanisms of saccade target selection: Gated accumulator model of visual-motor cascade. European Journal of Neuroscience.

Richler, J.J., Gauthier, I., & Palmeri, T.J. (2011). Automaticity of basic-level categorization accounts for labeling effects in visual recognition memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Richler, J.J., Mack, M.L., Palmeri, T.J., & Gauthier, I. (2011). Inverted faces are (eventually) processed holistically. Vision Research.

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Stephen Denton to join the CatLab

Posted on Jun 25, 2011

Stephen Denton will be joining the CatLab as a postdoctoral fellow this fall. Stephen earned his PhD from Indiana University with John Kruschke in 2009. His thesis was entitled Exploring active learning in a Bayesian framework. For the past two years he has remained at Indiana as a postdoctoral fellow with Rich Shiffrin and Rob Nosofsky. Stephen will be joining the lab in September.

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Congratulations Dr. Mack!

Posted on May 21, 2011

On Friday May 20, Mike Mack successfully defended his dissertation entitled "The Dynamics of Categorization: Rapid Categorization Unraveled". Mike is moving on to a postdoctoral fellowship at UT Austin with Brad Love and Allison Preston.

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