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GS 2021 GS portraits4

Michael Cohen


  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars 2021-2023
  • Brain, Mind & Consciousness




Michael Cohen’s research focuses on understanding the limits of visual perception, memory, and awareness. He asks questions like: Why is some information perceived and remembered while other information goes unnoticed and is forgotten? What are the cognitive and neural factors that limit the bandwidth of visual cognition? What can be done to overcome these limitations? To answer these questions, Cohen combines behavioural and neuroimaging (fMRI/EEG) methods to directly link different behaviors with the underlying neural architecture. Overall, he has found that the functional organization of the visual system acts as a bottleneck that limits the flow of information across the visual system and constrains the capacity of visual cognition in general. This finding holds across a variety of paradigms, forges a new link between brain and behavior, and suggests a new account of the limits of human cognition.


  • Fellow, American Psychological Foundation, 2020
  • Fellow, NIH-National Research Service Award, 2014
  • Derek Bok Teaching Award, Harvard University, 2011, 2012, 2013
  • Fellow, Vision Sciences Society Travel Award, 2012

Relevant Publications

  • Cohen, M. A., Ostrand, C., Frontero, N., & Pham, P. N. (2021). Characterizing a snapshot of perceptual experience. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
  • Cohen, M., Ortego, K., Kyroudis, A., Pitts, M. (2020). Distinguishing the neural correlates of perceptual awareness and post-perceptual processing. Journal of Neuroscience, 40, 4925-4935.
  • Cohen, M., Botch, T., & Robertson, C. (2020). The limits of color awareness during active, real-world vision. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 117, 13821-13827.

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CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.

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