Welcome to the Perception and Cognition Lab at the University of California, San Diego, led by Dr. John Serences. We are based in the Department of Psychology, but also participate in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and the Institute for Neural Computation.


      Our research focuses on understanding how behavioral goals influence perception, decision making, and memory. Perception is thought to be based on the activity of sensory neurons that receive input from the world around us (in the form of light, sound, etc.). However, sensory neurons are very noisy and unreliable, so small groups of these neurons must work together to support stable perceptual representations. In addition, a combination of factors such as prior experiences, current expectations, and behavioral goals influence the activity of sensory neurons to bias perception in favor of the most important objects in the environment. What we experience is therefore not merely a product of the raw sensory input, but instead reflects the combined influence of sensory factors and the internal state of the observer. To investigate the influence of behavioral goals and previous experiences on perception and cognition, we employ a combination of psychophysics, computational modeling, and neuroimaging techniques.

      Recent review papers

      Publicly available data sets and analysis code (


      Nuttida's new opinion paper on dissociating expectation and attention Current Opinion in Psychology.

      Maggie's paper on invariant target detection signals in visual cortex and in the multiple demand network Journal of Neurophysiology.

      Recent review papers and Matlab tutorials

      Publicly available data sets and analysis code (