People

Neil Bramley
PhD 2017, UCL

I am a lecturer in cognitive psychology. I am interested in higher level cognition, particularly how people represent the world and think about its alternatives, plus how they use these abilities to plan, imagine, explain, blame and solve problems. I generally use interactive online experiments and games combined with computational modelling to investigate these issues.

Contact: neil.bramley@ed.ac.uk
Accepting students: No

Representative Paper

Alex Doumas
PhD 2005, UCLA

I am a Senior Lecturer in cognitive psychology interested in how distributed systems (like brains and artificial neural networks) come to represent and reason about relational concepts (like ‘above’, ‘next-to’, or ‘likes’). Specifically, I am interested in how children and adults learn to think about, represent, and use relations for solving problems. People are remarkably good at generalising across situations or domains (often referred to as cross-domain transfer). We routinely use representations used in one domain to characterise another (e.g., a child might learn about a concept like above in the context of their toys and then deploy that representation in the context of a video game). We actively use strategies learned about one situation to behave in another (e.g., a child might learn that unsupported things fall in the context of eating at a table and then generalise that strategy to knock a toy off a high shelf). My colleagues and I have argued that humans make these kinds of inferences so readily because we represent the world in terms of it’s underlying relational structure, and our representations are structured (i.e., symbolic). I primarily develop computational (neural network) models and perform experiments with human participants (adults and children) to address these questions.
Contact: alex.doumas@ed.ac.uk
Accepting students: Yes
Representative paper

Zach Horne
PhD 2017 (Psych), Illinois
PhD 2015 (Phil), Illinois

I am a Lecturer in cognitive science researching attitude change and the formation of attitudes, especially about science and morality. I’m particularly interested in how people generate arguments (e.g., how they produce arguments to support their views) and the efficacy of these arguments. I address these issues using a range of methods including behavioral studies with adults and children, data mining and machine learning techniques, surveys of experts, and Bayesian statistical modeling.  I also maintain an interest in advising students working at the intersection of psychology and philosophy.

Contact: Zachary.Horne@ed.ac.uk
Accepting students: Yes

Representative paper

Adam Moore
PhD 2011, Princeton

I am a Lecturer in psychology researching: (1) moral intuition and how it interacts with social and political orientation, (2) the psychology of (the desire for) power and its impact on judgement and decision making, and (3) the influence of both of these on reasoning ability/performance.

Contact: amoore23@exseed.ed.ac.uk
Accepting students: Yes

Hilary Richardson
PhD 2018, MIT

I am Lecturer in developmental cognitive neuroscience interested in children’s acquisition and refinement of intuitive theories. As a case study, my research investigates children’s developing “theory of mind” – which we use to understand causal relationships between mental states (e.g., someone who is hopeful may subsequently be disappointed) and between mental states and actions (e.g., someone who searches in a cupboard believes it holds something that they want). To date, most of my research uses child-friendly neuroimaging experiments to tease apart cognitive hypotheses about theory of mind development. Moving forward, I will continue to do this research as well as behavioural experiments with children.

Contact: hilary.richardson@ed.ac.uk
Accepting students: Yes

Stephanie Droop

I am a PhD student in psychology researching how mental representation and abstraction work. What is gained and what is lost when we conceptualise or formalise? How do we choose the best level of detail for an explanation? I have a strong interest in methodological issues in psychology and how that relates to the wider philosophy of science. When is it helpful to lever opposing viewpoints, and when is it important to adopt a definite stance?

Contact: s0342840@sms.ed.ac.uk

janphilippfranken (Jan-Philipp Fränken) · GitHub

Jan-Philipp Fränken

I am a PhD student in psychology interested in multi-agent systems and probabilistic representations of beliefs (e.g., in graphical models). For example, I am interested in how optimal network configurations can be found to optimize network performance. Currently, I am investigating information cascades and the emergence of echo chambers through agent-based simulations. At the same time, I aim to develop a better understanding of how people deal with statistical dependencies in social learning. These findings might help to further improve current models of belief propagation.

Contact: jp.franken@ed.ac.uk

Tianwei Gong

I am a PhD student in psychology studying human causal reasoning about complex systems that involve continuous timescales. My research is motivated by questions like: how do people make causal inferences so efficiently and adaptively with limited cognitive recourses? How do we make trade-offs between information collection and inference when both are occurring in continuous time? What information do we outweigh from the large continuous data flow? How do we know not only what to intervene on but also when to intervene if we can actively learn a causal system? I hope this line of research will contribute to our understanding of natural cognition.

Contact: tia.gong@ed.ac.uk

Ekaterina Shurkova

Ekaterina Shurkova

I am a PhD student in psychology interested in analogy, relational reasoning, mental representation and creativity.

Contact: e.shurkova@ed.ac.uk

Aba Szollosi
PhD 2020, UNSW

I am a postdoctoral fellow studying how people learn and make decisions, especially when they lack knowledge about important elements of their environment. My research focuses broadly on how people create and improve representations of their environments under such conditions. I’m interested in questions such as: How do people interpret and use environmental feedback, and how do they know what kind of feedback to pay attention to in the first place? What is the role of people’s background knowledge (e.g., of communicational and other cultural norms, of common environmental regularities, etc.) in building representations? How and why do people become and remain motivated to create and improve representations (or, when they don’t, why not)?

Contact: aba.szollosi@ed.ac.uk

Bonan Zhao

I am a PhD student in psychology interested in how people use previous experience to navigate through novel situations and the role of causal reasoning in these processes. I study these questions using interactive online experiments and a hybrid approach combining symbolic and sub-symbolic techniques.

Contact: b.zhao@ed.ac.uk

Former Lab Members

2021

Guillermo Puebla

PhD student
Now: Postdoc at University of Bristol

Koraima Sotomayor-Enríquez

MSc Psychology
Now: PhD student at the University of Edinburgh

2020

Sara Jaramillo

Lab manager (Arizona State)
Now: PhD student at University of Pittsburgh

Nicole Lobo

Masters student (Arizona State)
Now: PhD student at University of Pittsburgh

2019

Hunter Priniski

Research assistant (Arizona State)
Now: PhD student at UCLA

Prachi Solanki

Masters student (Arizona State)
Now: PhD student at Michigan State University

Olivia Miske

Masters student (Arizona State)
Now: Metascience Research Coordinator at Center for Open Science

Before 2019

Katherine Livins

PhD (University of Hawaii)
Now: Apple

Christopher Gonzales

PhD (Arizona State)
Now: Postdoc at University of California, Davis

Ivan Kroupin

Research assistant
Now: PhD student at Harvard

Laura Pritschet

Research assistant (Illinois)
Now: PhD student at UCSB

Madeline Reinecke

Research assistant (Illinois)
Now: PhD student at Yale University