Carnegie Mellon University

Marlene Behrmann

Dr. Marlene Behrmann

George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor, Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology, and Biomedical Engineering

Baker Hall 331H
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


  • B.A., Speech and Hearing Therapy, cum laude, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1981
  • M.A., Speech Pathology, cum laude, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1984
  • Research training, Birkbeck College, University of London, 1984-1985
  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Toronto, 1991


Dr. Marlene Behrmann is a Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, whose research specializes in the cognitive basis of visual perception, with a specific focus on object recognition. Dr. Behrmann received her B.A. in speech and hearing therapy in 1981, followed by her M.A. in speech pathology in 1984, both from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She then received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Toronto in 1991. Dr. Behrmann was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2015.

Dr. Behrmann is widely considered to be a trailblazer and a worldwide leader in the field of visual cognition. The major approach she uses in her research is to study the behavior of human adults who have sustained brain damage (usually through stroke or head injury), which selectively affects their ability to carry out these processes. 


Despite the fact that visual scenes may contain multiple objects and people, humans can recognize the objects and individuals with ease and accuracy. Research in Behrmann's lab focuses on studying how this is achieved - what are the necessary psychological processes and neural representations that underlie abilities such as object segmentation and recognition, face recognition, mental imagery, reading and writing and spatial attention? By exploiting multiple methodologies including fMRI, EEG and ERP and fNIRS with normal and brain-damaged adults and children, the goal is to elucidate computations and their neural correlates which subserve cortical vision. 

Research Interests: visual system; human adult and children; brain damage; neuroscience; electrophysiology


Awards and Recognition

  • Faculty Member Award for Neuroscience, F1000, 2017 ( read more)

  • Inspiring Women in Science Award, Brown University, 2017

  • Ladies Hospital Aid Society Pittsburgh, Distinguished Educator award, 2016    


  • Certificate for highly cited research, Vision Research, 2016

  • Nominated and included on Anne’s list: Women in computational and cognitive neuroscience, 2016 ( READ MORE)

  • Member, National Academy of Sciences, 2015