The world is abundantly complex, yet our visual system seamlessly and accurately determines what is in our environment. Dating back to William James, it has been assumed that this complexity is a hindrance that our visual system must overcome. In my research with adults, I showed that complexity could help perception by giving it a scaffolding upon which to incorporate incoming information. I have also pursued how the developing brain deals with complexity. I found that infants as young as five months have the hierarchical retinotopic organization of the mature adult visual system. This suggests that incoming visual information undergoes a cascade of transformations to extract features of differing complexity, even at a young age.


Ellis, C. T., Yates, T. S., Skalaban, L. J., Bejjanki, V. R., Arcaro, M. J., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2021). Retinotopic organization of visual cortex in human infants. Neuron, 109, 1-11. Paper, Code, Data

Ellis, C. T., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2019). Complexity can facilitate visual and auditory perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 45(9), 1271-1284. Paper, Data