Our group -- the Yale Perception & Cognition Laboratory -- is engaged in ongoing experimental and theoretical investigations of several areas of cognitive science, with a recent focus on the study of visual perception, attention, and awareness. Some specific topics that we are currently exploring include:
What is visual awareness? How and when is it produced? What factors determine whether we will become conscious of a visual stimulus? Our work in this domain (often focusing on phenomena such as sustained inattentional blindness and motion-induced blindness) has begun to reveal how both attention and 'unconscious inferences' serve as critical gateways to our conscious perception of the world.
How do we perceive parts of visual scenes as the same enduring individual objects over time, motion, occlusion, and featural change? Our work in this domain (often employing tools such as multiple object tracking and the tunnel effect) has begun to reveal the nature of 'object persistence' in both adult visual cognition and the infant's 'object concept'.
The Perception of Animacy and Causality
Though we typically think of perception in terms of properties such as color and shape, we also experience the visual world in terms of properties such as causation, animacy, and intentionality. Our work on the perception of animacy and causality explores how perception concerns not only a recovery of the physical structure of the world, but also a recovery of its causal and social structure.
Beyond the processing of individual objects, there are massive amounts of information about relations between objects in space and time, and the mind automatically extracts such information via statistical learning. Our work on the nature of implicit learning has begun to reveal surprisingly sophisticated processing of this sort that lies beneath the surface of conscious visual awareness.
Other current research topics in our group include subjective time dilation; perceptual averaging; the efficient communication of visual information; and the foundations of cognitive science. We work in close collaboration with several other labs here at Yale.
Gao, T., McCarthy, G., and Scholl, B. J. (2010). The wolfpack effect: Perception of animacy irresistibly influences interactive behavior. Psychological Science, 21, 1845-1853.
Albrecht, A. R., & Scholl, B. J. (2010). Perceptually averaging in a continuous visual world: Extracting statistical summary representations over time. Psychological Science, 21, 560-567
Cheries, E. W., Mitroff, S. R., Wynn, K., & Scholl, B. J. (2009). Do the same principles constrain persisting object representations in infant cognition and adult perception?: The cases of continuity and cohesion. In B. Hood & L. Santos (Eds.), The Origins of Object Knowledge (pp. 107 - 134). Oxford University Press.
New, J. J., & Scholl, B. J. (2008). 'Perceptual scotomas': A functional account of motion-induced blindness. Psychological Science, 19, 653 - 659.
Scholl, B. J. (2007). Object persistence in philosophy and psychology. Mind & Language, 22, 563 - 591.