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Lab Director

Jon Freeman

Jon Freeman, Ph.D. 

[Web] [Email] [CV] [Twitter]

Jon Freeman is Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University and director of the Social Cognitive & Neural Sciences Lab. He studies split-second social perception, primarily how we use facial cues to categorize other people into social groups, perceive their emotion, and infer their personality. He treats social perception as fundamentally dynamic, examining how visual processes may be shaped by stereotypes and biases, prior knowledge and beliefs, and other aspects of social cognition. He uses brain and behavior-based techniques to study 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 is additionally interested in 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 range of methodologies, including functional neuroimaging, real-time behavioral techniques (mouse-tracking), and computational modeling. He is also the developer of the data collection and analysis software, MouseTracker.


Research Staff

Hayoung Woo


Hayoung received her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Neuroscience from Carnegie Mellon University in 2017. She spent her post-baccalaureate year at Carnegie Mellon working with Dr. David Creswell and Dr. Janine Dutcher on a fMRI study examining psychological and neural mechanism underlying stress-buffering effect of self-affirmation in the face of social threat. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D in Social Neuroscience and is broadly interested in understanding how brain tracks and responds to different types of social interactions and categorization in a diverse social setting.

Benjy Barnett


Benjy graduated from Sussex University in 2017. Having studied Neuroscience with Cognitive Science for his BSc, he has just finished a MSc in Intelligent and Adaptive Systems. Working with Dr Keisuke Suzuki and Professor Anil Seth, his work has been focused on using Virtual Reality to understand the neural and cognitive processes that underlie various aspects of bodily consciousness and hallucinations. Benjy is interested in how the predictions we make about the world can influence our perception. Specifically, he hopes to use computational modelling and psychophysical methodologies to investigate the extent to which top-down beliefs about race and gender can impact our perception, and subsequently alter our behaviour towards other people.


Post-doctoral Researchers

DongWon Oh, Ph.D.

[Web] [Email]

DongWon Oh received his PhD in psychology from Princeton University and was advised by Alexander Todorov. DongWon’s research at Princeton focused on how gender biases play out in facial impressions. Expanding his previous work, DongWon is interested in studying how the complex process of impression formation is shaped by the social environment (e.g., stereotypes), the characteristics of the targets (e.g., face identity, face gender), and the characteristics of the perceiver (e.g., perceiver gender).

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 doctoral student in the Department of Psychology at New York University, where he works with Dr. Jonathan Freeman in the Social Cognitive and Neural Sciences Lab. His research bridges methods of psychology and neuroscience to study person perception, social categorization, and stereotyping. In particular, he examines how the structure of our social concepts and beliefs shape our perceptions of others.

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

[Email] [CV]

Jeff Brooks received his BA in Philosophy, with a minor in Cognitive & Brain Sciences, from Tufts University in 2012 and began his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2015. Jeff is interested in the neural mechanisms that support the influence of conceptual knowledge, context, and other top-down factors on social face perception. His current research is focused on the relative influence of facial cues and conceptual knowledge during facial emotion perception, and how individual differences in conceptual knowledge and various social and cultural factors can influence this process.

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.

Ph.D. Student Affiliates

Jennie Qu-Lee


Jennie received her MA from the University of Chicago, her BS from Fudan University. She worked as Dr. Peter Mende-Siedlecki's lab manager at the University of Delaware for two years, before pursuing her PhD candidacy at NYU starting Fall 2018. Her research interests expand from psychological and neurocognitive mechanisms of impression formation to intergroup decision-making. More specifically, she is interested in how we characterize the dynamic processes by which we perceive, understand, and make decisions about people like us and people who are not. She utilizes a multi-level approach to advance her understanding of intergroup dynamics, and hopes to build long-lasting interventions to combat group-based discrimination.


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. From 2016-2018, he was the 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.

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.

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 McGill 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.  

Matt Keller Matt Keller

Matt Keller is a PhD student 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 was a visiting student in the lab in Spring 2018.

Cartoon illustration at top-right by Danielle Laurenti.