Lauren N. Hecht, PhD

| Department of Psychological Science


"Deceptions of the senses are the truths of perception."

~Johannes Purkinje



I am an Assistant Professor at Gustavus Adolphus College, teaching a variety of courses in the Department of Psychological Science. Additionally, I supervise and conduct research in the Perception and Attention Lab Suite. Prior to my arrival at Gustavus in the Fall of 2010, I taught for the Department of Psychology at Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA for the 2009-2010 academic year. Before that I was a graduate student at the University of Iowa. While there, I worked in the Visual Cognition Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Shaun Vecera. As a student in the Cognition and Perception training area in the Department of Psychology, I was often a summer/evening course instructor or a teaching assistant. Prior to attending graduate school, I completed my B.A. degree at Albion College.

I have long been intrigued by the human mind and the brain itself. I first recognized these interests late in my second year of undergraduate studies while taking advanced courses as a philosophy major that focused on topics within philosophy of mind. My interests continued to grow and became more focused as I took courses in neuroscience and psychology, which I soon declared as my second major. After my third year of undergraduate studies, I completed a departmental thesis that helped to focus my interests within cognitive psychology to visual perception and attention. 

My research focuses broadly on perception and attention. Currently, my interests lie in perceptual organization, which is a process that establishes early object representations by grouping visual features together and distinguishing between objects by segregating visual features. In one line of research, I am examining how the organizational process of figure-ground assignment - separating relevant foreground information from the irrelevant background - affects other cognitive processes like temporal processing (i.e., determining when events happen over time). Another line of research examines the attentional selection of perceptual groups ("objects"), focusing on the properties of perceptual groups that allow for their selection by attention. A new portion of my research will examine the perception of and attentional selection of audio-visual perceptual groups (i.e., objects that are both seen and heard) and crossmodal attention (e.g., how smell influences attention).

In addition to my own research, I frequently supervise independent or honors research projects. I look forward to incorporating student-driven projects when appropriate, so let me know if you have any ideas!