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Stephen Michael Kosslyn (born in 1948) is an American psychologist. He is currently a professor of psychology and Chair of the department of psychology at Harvard University and a researcher in the fields of cognitive psychology and neuroscience.
He received his B.A. in 1970 from UCLA and his Ph.D.from Stanford University in 1974, both in psychology. His former teaching career includes Johns Hopkins and Brandeis Universities.
Kosslyn is mostly known for his research and theories on imagery. His theory is that, contrary to common assumption, imagery is not a unified phenomena. It consists of a collection of numerous distinct functions. These functions are responsible for different aspects of imagery. His research, which includes fMRI-imaging and similar techniques, has located these functions to different neural networks, some of which are in different cerebral hemispheres of the brain. For example, it has been demonstrated that the left hemisphere is much better at encoding categories and producing mental images on the basis of categories, whereas the right hemisphere is better at encoding specific examples or continuous distances and at producing images that have such characteristics.
For his research, he has received numerous honors. These include the National Academy of Sciences Initiatives in Research Award and the Prix Jean-Louis Signoret. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Society of Experimental Psychologists.
He has published over 250 scientific papers and written numerous books, including "Image and mind" (1980), "Ghosts in the minds machine" (1983), "Wet mind" (1992), "Elements of Graph design" (1994) and "Image and Brain" (1994). He is also the co-author of "Psychology: the brain, the person, the world" (2000, 2004).