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Stephen Kosslyn

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Stephen Michael Kosslyn is an American psychologist. As of 1 January 2011, he is director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and the John Lindsley Professor of Psychology in Memory of William James, emeritus, at Harvard University; he is formerly Chair of the department of psychology as well as Dean of Social Science at Harvard University. Kosslyn is 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 Ph.D. thesis advisor was Gordon H. Bower. His former teaching career includes Johns Hopkins and Brandeis Universities.

Kosslyn is primarily known for his research and theories on mental imagery. His theory is that, contrary to common assumption, mental imagery is not a unified phenomena. Instead, it consists of a collection of numerous distinct functions, each of which is responsible for a different aspect 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.

See also

Group Brain Project


He has published over 300 scientific papers and written numerous books, including "Image and mind" (1980), "Ghosts in the minds machine" (1983), "Wet mind" (1992, with O. Koenig), "Elements of Graph design" (1994), "Image and Brain" (1994), "Graph Design for the Eye and Mind" (2006), "The Case for Mental Imagery" (2007, with Thompson and Ganis), "Clear and to the Point" (2007), and "Better PowerPoint" (2011). He is also the co-author (with Rosenberg) of "Introducing Psychology: The Brain, the Person, the World" (2000, 2004, 2011), "Cognitive Psychology: Mind and Brain" (with Smith, 2006), and "Abnormal Psychology" (with Rosenberg, 2010).

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