Diane M Beck

Section 1

Program Area: Cognitive Neuroscience

Professor of Psychology

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Contact Information:


  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Attention
  • Visual Perception

Research Description

At the most general level, my research program is aimed at identifying the cognitive processes and neural structures that enable and limit our visual representations of the world. For instance, I am interested in: what processes determine whether or not we are aware of a visual object or event, can report its presence, or can recall it later; what mechanisms constrain the number of items we can effectively process at the same time; how higher-level processes such as attention modulate activity in visual cortex; and, why some stimuli (e.g. natural scenes)are processed so quickly and with relatively little effort. We use a variety of approaches to address these questions, including functional magnetic resonance imaging, behavioral methods, and transcranial magnetic stimulation.


  • Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley


  • Psych 220 Images of Mind (Spring)
  • Psych 453 Cognitive Neuroscience of Vision (Fall)
  • Psych 504: Theories of Attention
  • Psych 593 Consciousness
  • Psych 598: Proseminar in Cognitive Neuroscience (Fall)

Recent Publications

Beck, D. M. & Kastner, S. (2005). Stimulus context modulates competition in human extrastriate cortex. Nature Neuroscience, 8, 1110-1116.

Mathewson, K., Gratton, G., Fabiani, M., Beck, D.M., & Ro, T. (2009). To See or Not to See: Pre-stimulus Alpha Phase Predicts Visual Awareness. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 2725-32.

Walther, D.B., Caddigan, E., Fei-Fei, L., & Beck, D.M. (2009). Natural Scene Categories Revealed in Distributed Patterns of Activity in the Human Brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 10573-81.

Scalf, P.E. & Beck, D. M. (2010). Competition in visual cortex impedes attention to multiple items. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 161-169.

Caddigan, E., Choo, H., Fei-Fei, L., & Beck, D.M (2017). Categorization influences detection: A Perceptual Advantage for Representative Exemplars of Natural Scene Categories. Journal of Vision, 17(1):21. doi: 10.1167/17.1.21.

Metzger, B.A., Mathewson, K.E., Tapia, E., Fabiani, M., Gratton, G., Beck, D.M. (2017). Regulating the access to awareness: Brain activity related to probe-related and spontaneous reversals in binocular rivalry. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 29(6):1089-1102.

Section 2


Facilities Information

Building Remodeling Projects

Click on the title to check out these pictures from the classroom remodeling project in the basement. A second project to replace the elevators will begin in September. Beginning with the freight elevator, each elevator will be out of service for three months. To get quickly from one floor to another, and improve your fitness, we will encourage the use of the stairs. The repainting of the northeast stairwell has been completed, and the painter is starting on the southwest stairwell.