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Chaz Firestone
Johns Hopkins University
  1. Cognition does not affect perception: Evaluating the evidence for “top-down” effects.Chaz Firestone & Brian J. Scholl - 2016 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39:1-72.
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  2. Finding the “odd one out”: Memory color effects and the logic of appearance.J. J. Valenti & Chaz Firestone - 2019 - Cognition 191 (C):103934.
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  3. How 'paternalistic' is spatial perception? Why wearing a heavy backpack doesn't -- and couldn't -- make hills look steeper.Chaz Firestone - 2013 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 8 (4):455-473.
  4. Curious objects: How visual complexity guides attention and engagement.Zekun Sun & Chaz Firestone - 2021 - Cognitive Science: A Multidisciplinary Journal 45 (4):e12933.
    Some things look more complex than others. For example, a crenulate and richly organized leaf may seem more complex than a plain stone. What is the nature of this experience—and why do we have it in the first place? Here, we explore how object complexity serves as an efficiently extracted visual signal that the object merits further exploration. We algorithmically generated a library of geometric shapes and determined their complexity by computing the cumulative surprisal of their internal skeletons—essentially quantifying the (...)
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  5. Performance vs. competence in human–machine comparisons.Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 41.
    Does the human mind resemble the machines that can behave like it? Biologically inspired machine-learning systems approach “human-level” accuracy in an astounding variety of domains, and even predict human brain activity—raising the exciting possibility that such systems represent the world like we do. However, even seemingly intelligent machines fail in strange and “unhumanlike” ways, threatening their status as models of our minds. How can we know when human–machine behavioral differences reflect deep disparities in their underlying capacities, vs. when such failures (...)
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  6. Seeing and speaking: How verbal 'description length' encodes visual complexity.Zekun Sun & Chaz Firestone - 2021 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (1):82-96.
    What is the relationship between complexity in the world and complexity in the mind? Intuitively, increasingly complex objects and events should give rise to increasingly complex mental representations (or perhaps a plateau in complexity after a certain point). However, a counterintuitive possibility with roots in information theory is an inverted U-shaped relationship between the “objective” complexity of some stimulus and the complexity of its mental representation, because excessively complex patterns might be characterized by surprisingly short computational descriptions (e.g., if they (...)
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  7. Sustained Representation of Perspectival Shape.Jorge Morales, Axel Bax & Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117 (26):14873–14882.
    Arguably the most foundational principle in perception research is that our experience of the world goes beyond the retinal image; we perceive the distal environment itself, not the proximal stimulation it causes. Shape may be the paradigm case of such “unconscious inference”: When a coin is rotated in depth, we infer the circular object it truly is, discarding the perspectival ellipse projected on our eyes. But is this really the fate of such perspectival shapes? Or does a tilted coin retain (...)
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  8. Optimism and Pessimism in the Predictive Brain.Zekun Sun & Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences (9):683-685.
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    Deepfake detection by human crowds, machines, and machine-informed crowds.Matthew Groh, Ziv Epstein, Chaz Firestone & Rosalind Picard - 2022 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119 (1):e2110013119.
    The recent emergence of machine-manipulated media raises an important societal question: How can we know whether a video that we watch is real or fake? In two online studies with 15,016 participants, we present authentic videos and deepfakes and ask participants to identify which is which. We compare the performance of ordinary human observers with the leading computer vision deepfake detection model and find them similarly accurate, while making different kinds of mistakes. Together, participants with access to the model’s prediction (...)
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  10.  25
    Enhanced visual awareness for morality and pajamas? Perception vs. memory in ‘top-down’ effects.Chaz Firestone & Brian J. Scholl - 2015 - Cognition 136 (C):409-416.
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    Seeing and thinking: Foundational issues and empirical horizons.Chaz Firestone & Brian J. Scholl - 2016 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39.
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  12. Can resources save rationality? ‘Anti-Bayesian’ updating in cognition and perception.Eric Mandelbaum, Isabel Won, Steven Gross & Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 143:e16.
    Resource rationality may explain suboptimal patterns of reasoning; but what of “anti-Bayesian” effects where the mind updates in a direction opposite the one it should? We present two phenomena — belief polarization and the size-weight illusion — that are not obviously explained by performance- or resource-based constraints, nor by the authors’ brief discussion of reference repulsion. Can resource rationality accommodate them?
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  13.  93
    Can You Hear Me Now? Sensitive Comparisons of Human and Machine Perception.Michael A. Lepori & Chaz Firestone - 2022 - Cognitive Science 46 (10):e13191.
    Cognitive Science, Volume 46, Issue 10, October 2022.
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  14. Visual adaptation and the purpose of perception.Ian B. Phillips & Chaz Firestone - forthcoming - Analysis.
    What is the purpose of perception? And how might the answer to this question help distinguish perception from other mental processes? Block’s landmark book, The Border between Seeing and Thinking, investigates the nature of perception, how perception differs from cognition, and why the distinction matters. It is, as one would expect, wide-ranging, deeply informed by relevant science, and hugely stimulating. Here, we explore a central project of the book — Block’s attempts to identify the features of perception that distinguish it (...)
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  15. Hi-def memories of Lo-def scenes.Jose Rivera-Aparicio, Qian Yu & Chaz Firestone - 2021 - Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.
  16. Problems and mysteries of the many languages of thought.Eric Mandelbaum, Yarrow Dunham, Roman Feiman, Chaz Firestone, E. J. Green, Daniel Harris, Melissa M. Kibbe, Benedek Kurdi, Myrto Mylopoulos, Joshua Shepherd, Alexis Wellwood, Nicolas Porot & Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2022 - Cognitive Science 46 (12): e13225.
    “What is the structure of thought?” is as central a question as any in cognitive science. A classic answer to this question has appealed to a Language of Thought (LoT). We point to emerging research from disparate branches of the field that supports the LoT hypothesis, but also uncovers diversity in LoTs across cognitive systems, stages of development, and species. Our letter formulates open research questions for cognitive science concerning the varieties of rules and representations that underwrite various LoT-based systems (...)
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    Empirical evidence for perspectival similarity.Jorge Morales & Chaz Firestone - 2023 - Psychological Review 1.
    When a circular coin is rotated in depth, is there any sense in which it comes to resemble an ellipse? While this question is at the center of a rich and divided philosophical tradition (with some scholars answering affirmatively and some negatively), Morales et al. (2020, 2021) took an empirical approach, reporting 10 experiments whose results favor such perspectival similarity. Recently, Burge and Burge (2022) offered a vigorous critique of this work, objecting to its approach and conclusions on both philosophical (...)
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