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Judith Fan

Judith Fan

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology

Contact Information


Location: McGill Hall

Mailing Address:
UC San Diego
Department of Psychology
9500 Gilman Drive MC 0109
La Jolla,CA 92093-0515

Lab Website

How does the human mind transform a cascade of sensory information into meaningful knowledge? While traditional approaches to learning focus on how people process the data provided to them by the world, this approach leaves aside all of the powerful tools people have to actively reformat their experiences and generate new ones. For example, we choose what to look at, bring certain memories to mind, produce pictures to share, and compose stories to tell. The goal of our lab's research is to "reverse engineer" the core mechanisms by which employing such cognitive tools affects how we perceive and understand the world.

As a case study, our recent work seeks to understand human visual communication, which encompasses behaviors ranging from informal sketching to formal scientific visualization and its applications in education, user interface design, and assistive technologies. Our goal in building computational models of such behaviors is to understand how perception, memory, motor planning, and social cognition functionally interact in the brain, leading to a more unified

  • Hawkins R.*, Sano, M.*, Goodman N., & Fan J. (2019). Graphical convention formation during visual communication. Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
  • Fan. J., Hawkins R., Wu M., & Goodman N. Pragmatic inference and visual abstraction enable contextual flexibility during visual communication. arXiv.
  • Fan J., Yamins D., & Turk-Browne, N. (2018) Common object representations for visual production and recognition. Cognitive Science, 42(8), 2670-2698.
  • Long, B., Fan J., & Frank M. (2018) Drawing as a window into developmental changes in object representations. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
  • Fan, J., Hutchinson, J., and Turk-Browne, N. (2016) When past is present: Substitutions of long-term memory for sensory evidence in perceptual judgments. Journal of Vision. 16(8): 1-12.
  • Fan J., Turk-Browne, N., & Taylor, J. (2016) Error-driven learning in statistical summary perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42(2), 266–280.
  • Fan, J. (2015) Drawing to learn: how producing graphical representations enhances scientific thinking. Translational Issues in Psychological Science. 1(2), 170-181.
  • Fan, J. and Turk-Browne N. (2013) Internal attention to features in visual short-term memory guides object learning. Cognition, 129(2), 292-308.