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Lab Director

Jon Freeman Jon Freeman, Ph.D. 

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Jon Freeman is Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University. He studies split-second social perception—how we use facial cues to categorize other people into social groups and perceive their personality traits and emotion. He treats this as a fundamentally dynamic process, and is interested in how basic visual perception of other people may be shaped by stereotypes and biases, prior knowledge, and other aspects of social cognition. He studies the interplay of visual and social processes in perceptual and interpersonal decisions, including the roles of specific facial features, social context, and individual differences. He additionally examines how the brain represents social categories and core trait dimensions of other people, and how initial perceptions influence downstream behavior and real-world outcomes. He takes an integrative and multi-level approach in examining these phenomena, incorporating insights across social psychology and the cognitive, vision, and neural sciences. His studies use a wide range of methodologies, including neuroimaging, electrophysiology, real-time behavioral techniques (e.g., mouse-tracking), and computational modeling. He is also the developer of the data collection and analysis software, MouseTracker.


Lab Manager

Michael Berkebile Michael Berkebile


Michael Berkebile received his BA in psychology from the University of California, San Diego in 2013. Afterwards, while working with Dr. Ralph-Axel Mueller on measures of functional connectivity in Autism spectrum disorder, he earned his MA in psychology, with a focus on cognitive neuroscience at San Diego State University in 2016. He is now at NYU, acting as joint lab manager for Dr. Jon Freeman and Dr. David Amodio. Michael is interested in studying how the neural networks that support reward and punishment processes function in social contexts. He further wants to research how these networks develop, and manifest differentially based on factors like group membership, level of social anxiety, social power, and economic scarcity.


Post-doctoral Researchers

Kao Chua Kao Chua, Ph.D.


Kao Chua received his PhD at Vanderbilt University and was advised by Isabel Gauthier. His research at Vanderbilt focused on the role of attention and visual expertise on face and object recognition. In particular, he has studied holistic processing, the tendency for experts to process objects as entire wholes rather than by their parts. This tendency is thought to be important for object recognition and is considered a hallmark of expert level processing. His dissertation explored on the role of experience on the magnitude of holistic processing and found that learning more exemplars in a category and receiving more training time resulted in greater holistic processing for that category. Kao is interested in bridging the work he has done in perceptual expertise with social categorization, in particular in terms of how training and experience influence implicit biases or automatic social judgments.



Ph.D. Students

Ryan Stolier Ryan Stolier

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Ryan is a NYU doctoral student broadly interested in how we represent social perceptions and concepts. His research concerns how bottom-up perceptual (e.g., face perception) and top-down social factors (e.g., prejudice, motivation) influence and structure these representations. He is interested in understanding these processes at both psychological and neural levels of analysis. His research primarily applies implicit behavioral and fMRI pattern analysis methods to these questions.


Annie Hill


Annie received her B.A. in Psychology from Vassar College in 2012. She began her Ph.D. in Social Psychology at NYU in 2014. Her research broadly concerns how psychological processes entrench intergroup conflict. She is especially interested in identifying prejudice regulation strategies for intergroup contexts in which discrimination is socially acceptable.


Jeff Brooks Jeff Brooks


Jeff Brooks received his BA in Philosophy, with a minor in Cognitive & Brain Sciences, from Tufts University in 2012. Afterward, he spent a year as a research assistant at Duke University's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and two years as a lab manager in Kristen Lindquist's lab at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is now a PhD student at New York University, working with Jon Freeman. Jeff is interested in the neural mechanisms that support the influence of conceptual knowledge and top-down social processes on lower-level perceptual experiences, particularly in the context of social categorization and emotion. He is also broadly interested in exploring the role of domain-general intrinsic brain networks in social perception and evaluative processes.


Ben Stillerman Ben Stillerman


Ben received his BS in Cognitive Science from University of California, San Diego and he began his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2015, working with Jon Freeman and Dave Amodio. He wants to know how people categorize others and how someone's membership in various social groups can influence perception of them. He is especially interested in how implicit stereotypes and prejudice alter lower-level visual perception and in finding interventions to mitigate the effects of intergroup bias.


Gustav Lundberg Gustav Lundberg


Gustav received his BA in Psychology from the University of Iowa and he began his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2017, working with Dr. Jon Freeman. He is interested in the neural mechanisms underlying stereotypes, intergroup perception, and social categorization. His past research has examined how age interacts with racial stereotypes.


Visiting Ph.D. Students

Matt Keller Matt Keller


Matt Keller is a PhD student in his third year at the University of Basel in Switzerland where he also received his M.A. in 2015. His main research interests center around face perception and stereotyping. In his current research project he aims to extract shared representations of personality dimensions in faces and those of prototypes of specific social groups. He primarily works with data-driven methods. Matt will be at NYU visiting the lab in February and March 2018 (and is really looking forward to it).



Ph.D. Student Affiliates

Mao Mogami


Mao received her B.S. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. At NYU, she primarily works with Dr. John Jost. She is broadly interested in social justice, morality, and political psychology. She is collaborating with Dr. Freeman on an ERP study that looks at ideological differences in emotion regulation.


Alexa Hubbard


Alexa is a PhD student in social psychology working primarily with Yaacov Trope. She is interested in mental simulation and self-regulation. She is collaborating with the Freeman lab in looking at how psychological distance can affect the process of choosing between immediate versus delayed rewards.


Diego Reinero Diego Reinero

[Email] [CV]

Diego received a dual B.S. in Psychology and Business from Skidmore College in 2012. He worked as a research assistant in various labs; Paul Bloom's lab at Yale University, Daniel Gilbert's lab at Harvard University, and the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. He began his Ph.D. in Social Psychology at NYU in 2015, working primarily with Jay Van Bavel. He is broadly interested in empathy, morality, and intergroup cooperation. His current research explores how group identification shapes neural synchrony and cooperation among individuals, and the dynamic processing of moral decisions.


Qi Xu


Qi was born and raised in mainland China. Qi received her B.S. in Applied psychology from Shanghai Normal University in 2012. She began her PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2014, working primarily with Patrick Shrout. She is broadly interested in how people represent their romantic relationship and how relationship representations influence thoughts, feelings and behavior. Her work in the Freeman lab uses mouse-tracking paradigms to study how people allocate financial resources within different relationship contexts. Additionally, she is interested in exploring how relationship representations are reflected at the neural level.


Jenn Lee


Jenn is pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at NYU after completing her BSc at McGill University. In collaboration with Dr Weiji Ma, in the lab she will be modelling implicit race/ gender biases using a memory task involving facial recognition of emotions.



Masters Student Research Assistants

Azaadeh Goharzad


Azaadeh received her MA in Behavioral Neuroscience from the City University of New York in 2017. She is interested in the reciprocal relationship between low level visual perception and intergroup relations. Specifically, how visual perception of groups and individual group members may be influenced by social factors such as discrepancies in power, threat, social identity, and vice versa. She is also interested in how these perceptual experiences ultimately contribute to behaviors in the context of intergroup conflict and collective action.


Ryan Tracy


Ryan is a first year MA student, having graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a BA in psychology in 2013. Primarily working in Jim Uleman’s lab, he's interested in how people make automatic judgments about the morality of other individuals and how group membership modulates this effect.


Carlina Conrad


Carlina received her B.Sc. in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. She started her Masters in psychology at NYU in 2015 where she is working in the lab as a research assistant. She is interested in the field of behavioral neuroscience, specifically in the underlying neural mechanisms of the dynamic relationship between social perception and group membership. In regards to social perception, she is especially interested in the bias and perception of emotion and trustworthiness.


Undergraduate & Post-Bac Research Assistants

Grace Adeyemi


Grace Adeyemi is a 3rd year NYU student majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience. She is very interested in Social Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience and Social Neuroscience. In particular, how biases in facial perception arise in relation to stereotypes and structural and functional connections in prejudice. In her free time, she attempts to sew a new wardrobe and recreate every Great British Bake Off masterpiece.

John Andrew Chwe


John Andrew Chwe is a junior studying psychology and computer science. He is interested in the computational modeling of the dynamics of face perception. After graduation, he plans to attend graduate school for social psychology or social neuroscience.

Ying Xie


Ying Xie is a psychology major currently in her sophomore year at Hunter College. She is interested in studying the neural circuits and biology involved in visual perception. In her free time, she enjoys photography and watching online lectures. She is also an avid mystery fan.


Deshana Barua


Deshana is a junior at NYU majoring in psychology and minoring in chemistry and anthropology. Her academic background has inspired her to take a multi-disciplinary approach to social cognition. She is interested in cognitive evolution and evolutionary psychology, especially as they relate to face perception and social categorization. In her free time, she likes to read obsessively and scout for picturesque nap locations around the city.



Lab Alumni
Eric Hehman Eric Hehman, Ph.D.

Eric is now an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Ryerson University. His website is here.


  DJ Lick DJ Lick, Ph.D.

DJ is now a User Experience Researcher at Facebook. His website is here.


Xi Shen
Masters Student


Xi was a Masters student at NYU, majoring in psychology. She worked in the lab as a research assistant and is interested in face perception and its role in social cognitive processes. She is currently a PhD student at Cornell University.  

  Zach Ingbretsen Zach Ingbretsen
Lab Manager

Zach graduated from Dartmouth College in 2011 with an A.B. in neuroscience with honors. After graduating, he was lab manager for Catherine Norris' social neuroscience lab, and then lab manager / research technician / software development assistant extraordinaire in Jon Freeman's lab. He is currently a research technician / software engineer in Mina Cikara's lab at Harvard.

Jemin Park Jemin Park
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jemin Park was a neuroscience major at Dartmouth from Knoxville, Tennessee. He worked in the lab as an undergraduate research assistant and is interested in studying how the brain converts sensory information into definite perceptions of people.


  Natalie Salmanowitz Natalie Salmanowitz
Undergraduate Honors Student

Natalie Salmanowitz was a neuroscience major and theater minor at Dartmouth from Menlo Park, California, who graduated in 2014. She completed her senior thesis project in the lab, exploring the neural basis of the facial width to height ratio and its impact on predictions of guilt. She is currently a Masters student at Duke.
Xuan Zhang Xuan Zhang
Lab Manager

Xuan Zhang received her A.B. in Mathematics, cum laude, nutrition and health minor, from Cornell University in 2014. She worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Laboratory of Rational Decision Making with Dr. Reyna. She served as lab manager from 2014-2016 in the Freeman Lab. She is now pursuing her Ph.D. at Columbia.


  Jay Dumanian Jay Dumanian
Undergraduate Honors Student

Jay Dumanian was a psychology major at Dartmouth from Los Altos, California, who graduated in 2014. He completed an honors thesis in the lab, studying the effects of personality judgments on our mental representations of the faces of others.


Carlotta Cogoni Carlotta Cogoni
Visiting Ph.D. Student

Carlotta Cogoni is enrolled in a PhD program in Cognitive Neuroscience at SISSA, in Italy. Her research focuses on sexual objectification with a specific focus on the female gender. She was a visiting student in the Freeman Lab in Spring 2016, working on a collaboration involving multi-voxel pattern analyses (MVPA) for fMRI data, as well as computer mouse-tracking techniques.

  Merylin Monaro Merylin Monaro
Visiting Ph.D. Student

Merylin is PhD candidate in Brain, Mind and Computer Science at University of Padova (Italy). She works under the supervision of Prof. Giuseppe Sartori in the field of forensic neuroscience. She is particularly interested in the study of deception and in its social implications, with particular attention to security applications. Most of her studies focus on understanding the cognitive mechanisms that underline the lies, with the final aim to develop new lie detection tools that are based on our cognitive system functioning. She integrates the cognitive science knowledge with notions of AI, to develop intelligent lie detection machines.  

Cartoon illustration at top-right by Danielle Laurenti.