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Chaz Firestone
Johns Hopkins University
  1. Cognition Does Not Affect Perception: Evaluating the Evidence for “Top-Down” Effects.Chaz Firestone & Brian J. Scholl - 2016 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39:1-72.
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  2. Curious Objects: How Visual Complexity Guides Attention and Engagement.Zekun Sun & Chaz Firestone - 2021 - Cognitive Science: A Multidisciplinary Journal 45 (4):e12933.
    Some things look more complex than others. For example, a crenulate and richly organized leaf may seem more complex than a plain stone. What is the nature of this experience—and why do we have it in the first place? Here, we explore how object complexity serves as an efficiently extracted visual signal that the object merits further exploration. We algorithmically generated a library of geometric shapes and determined their complexity by computing the cumulative surprisal of their internal skeletons—essentially quantifying the (...)
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  3. The Dark Room Problem.Zekun Sun & Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 24 (5):346-348.
    Predictive Processing theories hold that the mind’s core aim is to minimize prediction-error about its experiences. But prediction-error minimization can be 'hacked', by placing oneself in highly predictable environments where nothing happens. Recent philosophical work suggests that this is a surprisingly serious challenge, highlighting the obstacles facing ‘theories-of-everything’ in psychology.
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  4. How 'Paternalistic' is Spatial Perception? Why Wearing a Heavy Backpack Doesn't -- And Couldn't -- Make Hills Look Steeper.Chaz Firestone - 2013 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 8 (4):455-473.
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  5. Performance Vs. Competence in Human–Machine Comparisons.Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 41.
    Does the human mind resemble the machines that can behave like it? Biologically inspired machine-learning systems approach “human-level” accuracy in an astounding variety of domains, and even predict human brain activity—raising the exciting possibility that such systems represent the world like we do. However, even seemingly intelligent machines fail in strange and “unhumanlike” ways, threatening their status as models of our minds. How can we know when human–machine behavioral differences reflect deep disparities in their underlying capacities, vs. when such failures (...)
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  6. Optimism and Pessimism in the Predictive Brain.Zekun Sun & Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences (9):683-685.
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  7. Finding the “Odd One Out”: Memory Color Effects and the Logic of Appearance.J. J. Valenti & Chaz Firestone - 2019 - Cognition 191:103934.
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  8. Can Resources Save Rationality? ‘Anti-Bayesian’ Updating in Cognition and Perception.Eric Mandelbaum, Isabel Won, Steven Gross & Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 143:e16.
    Resource rationality may explain suboptimal patterns of reasoning; but what of “anti-Bayesian” effects where the mind updates in a direction opposite the one it should? We present two phenomena — belief polarization and the size-weight illusion — that are not obviously explained by performance- or resource-based constraints, nor by the authors’ brief discussion of reference repulsion. Can resource rationality accommodate them?
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  9. Sustained Representation of Perspectival Shape.Jorge Morales, Axel Bax & Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117 (26):14873–14882.
    Arguably the most foundational principle in perception research is that our experience of the world goes beyond the retinal image; we perceive the distal environment itself, not the proximal stimulation it causes. Shape may be the paradigm case of such “unconscious inference”: When a coin is rotated in depth, we infer the circular object it truly is, discarding the perspectival ellipse projected on our eyes. But is this really the fate of such perspectival shapes? Or does a tilted coin retain (...)
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  10. Seeing What’s Possible: Disconnected Visual Parts Are Confused for Their Potential Wholes.Chenxiao Guan & Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143:590-598.
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  11. The Perception of Relations.Chaz Firestone & Alon Hafri - 2021 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 25 (6):475-492.
    The world contains not only objects and features (red apples, glass bowls, wooden tables), but also relations holding between them (apples contained in bowls, bowls supported by tables). Representations of these relations are often developmentally precocious and linguistically privileged; but how does the mind extract them in the first place? Although relations themselves cast no light onto our eyes, a growing body of work suggests that even very sophisticated relations display key signatures of automatic visual processing. Across physical, eventive, and (...)
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  12. Hi-Def Memories of Lo-Def Scenes.Jose Rivera-Aparicio, Qian Yu & Chaz Firestone - 2021 - Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.
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    Seeing and Speaking: How Verbal 'Description Length' Encodes Visual Complexity.Zekun Sun & Chaz Firestone - forthcoming - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
    What is the relationship between complexity in the world and complexity in the mind? Intuitively, increasingly complex objects and events should give rise to increasingly complex mental representations (or perhaps a plateau in complexity after a certain point). However, a counterintuitive possibility with roots in information theory is an inverted U-shaped relationship between the “objective” complexity of some stimulus and the complexity of its mental representation, because excessively complex patterns might be characterized by surprisingly short computational descriptions (e.g., if they (...)
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