cognitive tools lab

reverse engineering the human cognitive toolkit

about the lab

The Cognitive Tools Lab is directed by Prof. Judith Fan and located in the UC San Diego Department of Psychology.

Our research addresses questions at the intersection of computational neuroscience, cognitive science, and AI.

Fundamentally, we are interested in how humans learn. While traditional approaches to learning focus on how people process the data provided to them by the world, this approach leaves aside all of the powerful tools people have to actively reformat their experiences and generate new ones. For example, we choose what to look at, bring certain memories to mind, produce pictures to share, and compose stories to tell. The goal of our research is to “reverse engineer” the core mechanisms by which employing such cognitive tools affects how we perceive and understand the world.