Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


Understanding the brain’s remarkable ability for visual object recognition is one of the greatest challenges of brain research. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of key issues of object representation and to survey data from primate physiology and human fMRI that bear on those issues. Topics include: the computational problems of object representation, the nature of object representations in the brain, the tolerance and selectivity of those representations, and the effects of attention and learning.

For the first two sessions we will review relevant background material. Each of the following weeks, we will discuss several key papers that bear on a central topic. Each student is expected to read these papers, to participate in discussion, and to present and lead discussion on several papers over the course of the term.

This course is aimed at graduate students and enrollment is limited. Depending on demand, advanced undergraduate students may be admitted, but they will be expected to perform at a graduate student level.

Class Sessions

  • Short lecture (~30 minutes): Introduce the key topic for the day and how that topic sits in the broader context of object recognition
  • Paper presentations and discussion (~2 hours): Three to four papers will be presented each session, allotting ~30 minutes for the presentation and discussion of each paper. We will have a 20 minute break midway through the class for lunch.


  • Read three to four papers in preparation for each session as dictated by the reading assignments: In preparation for each session, each student should read the required review readings AND at least two of the papers that will be presented. These papers should be carefully read so that you can meaningfully participate in the discussion each week (a significant part of your grade).
  • Present 3 papers over the course of the semester (PowerPoint) and lead discussion
  • Supplemental readings related to each session (optional)


Student Presentations (2-3 per Student) 50%
Active Discussion: Requires doing Readings 25%
Term Paper: Short Grant Proposal 25%