Nicholas Turk-Browne
Human Neuroscience
Human Neuroscience

Professor of Psychology

Lawrence S. Brodie University Preceptor.
Ph.D., Yale University, 2009

Research: Study how the mind and brain work, specific components of cognition - such as perception, attention, learning, and memory - are typically studied in isolation
Areas of Research: Visual Perception and Cognitione, Learning and Memory
Research Lab
PDF icon nick-turk-brown-cv-2014.pdf
320 Peretsman-Scully Hall

Research Focus

To study how the mind and brain work, we often isolate specific components of cognition -- such as perception, attention, learning, and memory -- at the risk of missing the forest for the trees. The overarching theme of my research is that these parts of the mind are inherently interactive, and that this interactivity is key for understanding the nature of any particular part. This perspective has been applied to several cognitive phenomena using a combination of functional neuroimaging and psychophysics.

As a case study, a major research focus in the lab concerns ‘statistical learning’, the remarkable ability of humans and other species to detect, represent, and exploit statistical regularities in the world around us without conscious awareness or intent. For example, we effortlessly learn the locations of objects in a room, the boundaries between words, and the sequence of landmarks on the way home. My research addresses fundamental questions about the nature of statistical learning, including: What is the input to statistical learning? What is stored in the mind as a result of statistical learning? How does statistical learning influence perception? While statistical learning develops over time, we are also interested in more immediate types of learning and memory, including perhaps the most basic form: reduced neural responses to repeated vs. novel things. This ‘repetition attenuation’ has been studied as an important consequence of the interaction between perception and memory, and has been used as a tool to understand the nature of visual representations. In a new direction for my research, we have begun exploring the neural scaffolding for interactions between perception, attention, learning, and memory as reflected in ‘functional connectivity’. We have found that seemingly random fluctuations are selectively shared across brain areas both during rest and in the background of tasks, and that the dynamics of these functional networks can be predictive of behavior and affected by cognitive state.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Schapiro, A.C., Gregory, E., Landau, B., McCloskey, M., & Turk-Browne, N.B. (in press). The necessity of the medial temporal lobe for statistical learning. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • Fan, J.E., & Turk-Browne, N.B. (2013). Internal attention to features in visual short-term memory guides object learning. Cognition, 129, 292-308.
  • Mende-Siedlecki, P., Verosky, S.C., Turk-Browne, N.B., & Todorov, A. (2013). Robust selectivity for faces in the human amygdala in the absence of expressions. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, 2086-2106.
  • Schapiro, A.C., Rogers, T.T., Cordova, N.I., Turk-Browne, N.B., & Botvinick, M.M. (2013). Neural representations of events arise from temporal community structure. Nature Neurosceience, 16, 486-492.
  • Shohamy, D., & Turk-Browne, N.B. (2013). Mechanisms for widespread hippocampal involvement in cognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142, 1159-1170.
  • Turk-Browne, N.B. (2013). Functional interactions as big data in the human brain. Science, 342, 580-584.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Golomb, J. D., & Chun, M. M. (2013). Complementary attentional components of successful memory encoding. NeuroImage, 66, 553-562.
  • Verosky, S. C., Todorov, A., & Turk-Browne, N.B. (2013). Representations of individuals in ventral temporal cortex defined by faces and biographies. Neuropsychologia, 51, 2100-2108
  • Zhao, J., Al-Aidroos, N., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2013). Attention is spontaneously biased towards regularities. Psychological Science, 24, 667-677.
  • Al-Aidroos, N., Said, C. P., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2012). Top-down attention switches coupling between low-level and high-level areas of human visual cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 14675-14680.
  • Hutchinson, J. B., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2012). Memory-guided attention: Control from multiple memory systems. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16, 576-579.
  • Norman-Haignere, S. V., McCarthy, G., Chun, M. M., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2012). Category-selective background connectivity in ventral visual cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 22, 391-402.
  • Schapiro, A. C., Kustner, L. V., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2012). Shaping of object representations in the human medial temporal lobe based on temporal regularities. Current Biology, 22, 1622-1627.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Simon, M. G., & Sederberg, P. B. (2012). Scene representations in parahippocampal cortex depend on temporal context. Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 7202-7207.
  • Verosky, S. C. & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2012). Representations of facial identity in the left hemisphere require right hemisphere processing. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 1006-1017.
  • Chun, M. M., Golomb, J. D., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2011). A taxonomy of external and internal attention. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 73-101.
  • Zhao, J., Ngo, N., McKendrick, R., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2011). Mutual interference between statistical summary perception and statistical learning. Psychological Science, 22, 1212-1219.
  • Zhao, J., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2011). Incidental encoding of numerosity in visual long-term memory. Visual Cognition, 19, 928-955.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Norman-Haignere, S. V., & McCarthy, G. (2010). Face-specific resting functional connectivity between the fusiform gyrus and posterior superior temporal sulcus. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 4, 176.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Scholl, B. J., Johnson, M. K., & Chun, M. M. (2010). Implicit perceptual anticipation triggered by statistical learning. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 11177-11187.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Scholl, B. J., Chun, M. M., & Johnson, M. K. (2009). Neural evidence of statistical learning: Efficient detection of visual regularities without awareness. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21, 1934-1945.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., & Scholl, B. J. (2009). Flexible visual statistical learning: Transfer across space and time. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35, 195-202.
  • Leber, A. B., Turk-Browne, N. B., & Chun, M. M. (2008). Neural predictors of moment-to-moment fluctuations in cognitive flexibility. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 13592-13597.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Isola, P. J., Scholl, B. J., & Treat, T. A. (2008). Multidimensional visual statistical learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 34, 399-407.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Scholl, B. J., & Chun, M. M. (2008). Habituation in infant cognition and functional neuroimaging. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2, 16.
  • Yi, D. J., Turk-Browne, N. B., Flombaum, J. I., Kim, M. S., Scholl, B. J., & Chun, M. M. (2008). Spatiotemporal object continuity in human ventral visual cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 8840-8845.
  • Yi, D. J., Turk-Browne, N. B., Johnson, M. K., & Chun, M. M. (2008). When a thought equals a look: Refreshing enhances perceptual encoding. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 1371-1380.
  • Chun, M. M., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2007). Interactions between attention and memory. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 17, 177-184.
  • Firestone, A., Turk-Browne, N. B. & Ryan, J. D. (2007).  Age-related deficits in face recognition are related to underlying changes in scanning behavior. Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition, 14, 594-607.
  • Ryan, J. D., Leung, G., Turk-Browne, N. B., & Hasher, L. (2007). Assessment of age-related changes in inhibition and binding using eye movement monitoring. Psychology & Aging, 22, 239-250.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Yi, D. J., Leber, A. B., & Chun, M. M. (2007). Visual quality determines the direction of neural repetition effects. Cerebral Cortex, 17, 425-433.
  • Xu, Y., Turk-Browne, N. B., & Chun, M. M. (2007). Dissociating task performance from fMRI repetition attenuation in ventral visual cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 27, 5981-5985.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Yi, D. J., & Chun, M. M. (2006). Linking implicit and explicit memory: Common encoding factors and shared representations. Neuron, 49, 917-927.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., Jungé, J. A., & Scholl, B. J. (2005). The automaticity of visual statistical learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 134, 552-564.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B., & Pratt, J. (2005). Attending to eye movements and retinal eccentricity: Evidence for the activity distribution model of attention reconsidered. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 31, 1061-1066.
  • Pratt, J., and Turk-Browne, N. B. (2003). The attentional repulsion effect in perception and action. Experimental Brain Research, 152, 376-382.

Book Chapters

  • Johnson, M.A., Turk-Browne, N.B., & Goldberg, A.E. (2013). Prediction plays a key role in language development as well as processing. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36, 32-33.
  • Turk-Browne, N.B. (2012). Statistical learning and its consequences. In M.D. Dodd & J.H. Flowers (Eds.), The Influence of Attention, Learning, and Motivation on Visual Search (pp. 117-146). New York: Springer.
  • Turk-Browne, N. B. (2012). Statistical learning in perception. In N.M. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning (pp. 3182-3185). New York: Springer.
  • Scholl, B. J., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2010). Statistical learning. In B. Goldstein (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Perception (pp. 935-938). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Chun, M. M., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2008). Associative learning mechanisms in vision. In S. J. Luck & A. Hollingworth (Eds.), Visual Memory (pp. 209-245). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Craik, F. I. M., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2007). The effects of attention and emotion on memory for context. In J.S. Nairne (Ed.), The foundations of remembering: Essays in honor of Henry L. Roediger III (pp. 159-170). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.