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Thomas Palmeri

Department Chair
Distinguished Professor of Psychology
Professor of Computer Science
Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

My laboratory studies visual cognition, including visual categorization, visual memory, and visual decision making. We study how objects are perceived and represented by the visual system, how visual knowledge is represented and learned, and how visual decisions are made. We approach these questions using a combination of behavioral experiments, cognitive neuroscience techniques, and computational and neural modeling. One line of research investigates both the dynamics and individual differences of visual object categorization and perceptual expertise for objects and faces, understanding these processes through a combination of cognitive and deep learning models. Another line of research uses computational modeling of visual selection and decision making to predict behavioral dynamics and neural dynamics.

I am currently Chair of the Department of Psychology. I have previously served as Director of Graduate Studies three times, Director of Undergraduate Research for the Data Science Institute at Vanderbilt, Associate Director of the former Learning Sciences Institute at Vanderbilt, co-Director of Scientific Computing, and Director of the Data Science Minor. I have been heavily involved in many efforts related to computation and data science over the years: I am on the Steering Committee for the AI Grand Challenge in A&S, chaired the A&S Working Group on Computational Thinking, co-led the effort to create the Scientific Computing Minor, led the effort to create the Data Science Minor, was part of the leadership team that proposed the Data Science Institute and the Data Science Masters program; I was Computer Module Director for the VVRC, have been an active user of ACCRE for over two decades, was co-PI on the first GPU instrumentation grant for the ACCRE cluster, and previously served on the Faculty Advisor Board for ACCRE. I also co-chaired the Faculty Senate Task Force on Administrative Effectiveness.

Lab Website

Representative Publications

Selected sample publications. See for a complete list and links to PDF files.

  • Cox, G.E., Palmeri, T.J., Logan, G.D., Smith, P.L., Schall, J.D. (in press). Salience by competitive and recurrent interactions: Bridging neural spiking and computation in visual attention. Psychological Review.
  • Annis, J., Gauthier, I., & Palmeri, T.J. (2021). Combining convolutional neural networks and cognitive models to predict novel object recognition in humans. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 47(5), 785-807.
  • Servant, M., Tillman, G., Logan, G.D., Schall, J.D., & Palmeri, T.J. (2019). Neurally-constrained modeling of speed-accuracy tradeoff during visual search: Gated accumulation of modulated evidence. Journal of Neurophysiology, 121, 1300-1314.
  • Annis, J., & Palmeri, T. J. (2019). Modeling memory dynamics in visual expertise. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.
  • Annis, J., & Palmeri, T.J. (2018). Bayesian statistical approaches to evaluating cognitive models. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews in Cognitive Science.
  • Turner, B.M., Forstmann, B.U., Love, B., Palmeri, T.J., & Van Maanen, L. (2017). Approaches to analysis in model-based cognitive neuroscience. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 76, 65-79.
  • Mack, M.L., & Palmeri, T.J. (2015). The dynamics of categorization: Unraveling rapid categorization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144, 551-569.
  • Logan, G.D., Yamaguchi, M., Schall, G.D., & Palmeri, T.J. (2015). Inhibitory control in mind and brain 2.0: A blocked-input model of saccadic countermanding. Psychological Review, 122, 115-147.
  • Zandbelt, B.B., Purcell, B.A., Palmeri, T.J., Logan, G.D., Schall, J.D. (2014). Response times from ensembles of accumulators. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Ross, D.A., Deroche, M., & Palmeri, T.J. (2014). Not just the norm: Exemplar-based models also predict face aftereffects. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
  • Folstein, J., Palmeri, T.J., Gauthier, I (2013). Category learning increases discriminability of relevant object dimensions in visual cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 23(4), 814-823. 
  • Folstein, J., Gauthier, I., & Palmeri, T.J. (2012). Not all morph spaces stretch alike: How category learning affects object perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
  • Purcell, B.A., Schall, J.D., Logan, G.D., & Palmeri, T.J. (2012). From salience to saccades: multiple-alternative gated stochastic accumulator model of visual search. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(10), 3433-3446. 
  • Pouget, P., Logan, G.D., Palmeri, T.J., Boucher, L., & Schall, J.D. (2011). Neural basis of adaptive response time adjustment. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31 (35), 12604-12612. 
  • Purcell, B.A., Heitz, R.P., Cohen, J.Y., Schall, J.D., Logan, G.D., & Palmeri, T.J. (2010). Neurally-constrained modeling of perceptual decision making. Psychological Review, 117, 1113-1143. 
  • Mack, M.L., & Palmeri, T.J. (2010). Decoupling object detection and categorization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 36, 1067-1079. 
  • Wong, A.C.-N., Palmeri, T.J., & Gauthier I. (2009). Conditions for face-like expertise with objects: Becoming a Ziggerin expert – but which type? Psychological Science, 20, 1108-1117. 
  • Boucher, L., Palmeri, T.J., Logan, G.D., & Schall, J.D. (2007). Inhibitory control in mind and brain: An interactive race model of countermanding saccades. Psychological Review, 114, 376-397. 
  • Palmeri, T.J., Wong, A.C.-N., & Gauthier, I. (2004). Computational approaches to the development of perceptual expertise. Trends in Cognitive Science, 8, 378-386. 
  • Palmeri, T.J., & Gauthier, I. (2004). Visual object understanding. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 5, 291-303. 
  • Johansen, M.K., & Palmeri, T.J. (2002). Are there representational shifts during category learning? Cognitive Psychology, 45, 482-553. 
  • Palmeri, T.J., & Flanery, M.A. (1999). Learning about categories in the absence of training: Profound amnesia and the relationship between perceptual categorization and recognition memory. Psychological Science, 10, 526-530. 
  • Nosofsky, R.M., & Palmeri, T.J. (1997). An exemplar-based random walk model of speeded classification. Psychological Review, 104, 266-300. 
  • Palmeri, T.J. (1997). Exemplar similarity and the development of automaticity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 23, 324-354.


  • Elected Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, 2023 
  • Chair for Twenty-Five Years of Service as a Faculty Member, 2020
  • Elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, 2015
  • The Chancellor's Award for Research, 2009
  • APA Division of Experimental Psychology New Investigator Award, 1998
  • Irving J. Saltzman Award for Outstanding
  • Graduate Achievement, Indiana University, 1996
  • J.R. Kantor Fellow Graduate Award, Indiana University, 1995
  • Indiana University Cognitive Science Fellowship, 1990
  • B.S. with University Honors, Carnegie Mellon University, 1987
  • Senior University Scholar, Carnegie Mellon University, 1987
  • Wayne Rawley Merit Scholarship (2 years), Carnegie Mellon University, 1985
  • Carnegie Institute of Technology College Scholar, Carnegie Mellon University, 1984
  • University President's Award for Top 100 Student, Carnegie Mellon University, 1984