Friday, October 9, 2009
Carnegie Mellon Appoints New Co-Director Of Center for the Neural Basis of CognitionPITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University has appointed Michael J. Tarr, a new professor of psychology, co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). The CNBC is a joint project between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh devoted to investigating neural mechanisms and their impact on human cognitive abilities. The center integrates the strengths of the University of Pittsburgh in basic and clinical neuroscience with Carnegie Mellon's strengths in psychology, computer science, biological sciences and statistics, and sponsors an interdisciplinary graduate training program. Peter Strick, a professor of neurobiology and psychiatry at Pitt, also co-directs the center.
Before joining Carnegie Mellon last month, Tarr spent 14 years at Brown University as a professor of cognitive and linguistic sciences. An expert in the neural, cognitive and computational mechanisms underlying visual perception and cognition, Tarr also held a chair in ophthalmology and visual sciences at Brown.
Tarr's research focuses on object and face recognition, perceptual expertise and multi-modal perception. He is credited with several influential theories relating to how people learn about and recognize objects and faces, including the idea that objects are encoded from multiple views and that face recognition is part of a generic system optimized for individuating between similar objects.
John Lehoczky, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which administers the CNBC, believes Tarr's appointment puts the center in a position to significantly advance Carnegie Mellon's impact on the brain and behavioral sciences. "Michael Tarr is a truly outstanding scientist who has the breadth of scientific vision to lead this extraordinarily interdisciplinary center," he said. "Under his leadership and in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh scientists, I expect the CNBC to be making important advances in the field of cognitive neuroscience."
"I'm excited for the opportunity to lead one of the world's most renowned cognitive neuroscience centers," said Tarr, who grew up in Pittsburgh and is the son of Joel Tarr, the Carnegie Mellon Richard S. Caliguri Professor of History and Policy. "The CNBC is a natural fit for my interests, and I am excited to work with its superb faculty in enhancing present strengths and building in new directions."
By: Shilo Raube