The Psychonomic Society honors deceased members by publishing obituaries on our website. If you know a member of our community who has recently passed away, please contact Colin MacLeod at email@example.com with information. Particularly valuable would be suggestions for who might write the obituary. For consistency, the text is to be no more than 150 words, where possible including a link to a longer obituary appearing elsewhere.
William "Bill" Uttal (1934-2017)
Bill Uttal was one of us, but is no more. After a good life, Bill died a good death on Feb 9 at the
age of 83, at peace, surrounded by his wife and three daughters.
Bill started his career as a geek—after earning a BS in physics he joined the Air Force Institute
of Technology, where he programmed analog computers and headed the fledgling computer laboratory,
and thence to
North American Aviation, where he got digital. He wanted more, so on to Ohio state and a Ph.D.
(1957) in experimental psychology and biophysics. His first job was at IBM; he had to salvage his
first computer from death by recycling. After proving his mettle with it he was given state-of the
art gear, and rolled up his sleeves. He jury-rigged 9 terminals to an IBM 1410 to make the first
multiple terminal system at IBM. With it he developed programs of computer- aided instruction
(German, statistics, stenography, analytic geometry). His boss wanted auditory feedback, so he took
the recording and playback heads from of a tape recorder and wired them in to provide it: “Yes,
correct; Very good!”
Bill moved to the University of Michigan in 1963, where he conducted elegant experiments comparing
behavioral and neural responses to stimulation in various sensory modalities. He later moved to
Hawaii for an idyllic three years, and in 1988 to Arizona State University to be chair of the
psychology department. This is where our friendship began.
I first knew of Bill from his Psychobiology of Sensory Coding (Uttal, 1973), a great book for its
time. Once at ASU he turned to computer vision research, and to the writing of books. Every 18-24
months a new one would appear. At heart Bill was both an engineer and a scholar. Engineers build
things to work, scholars talk about things, some of which work, some of which don’t. Bill had an
engineer’s expectations—research should be solid and should stand, hopefully as long as structures
like bridges. He became disturbed by the low replicability of cognitive research, and in particular
cognitive neuroscience (Uttal, 2013). He knew how fMRIs worked, and PETs and SQUIDS; and he knew
how to analyze data; and things just weren’t adding up. His most famous reflection on this was The
new phrenology: The limits of localizing cognitive processes in the brain (Uttal, 2001), updated
in (2008). As one reviewer observed while ducking: “he comes out with guns blazing”. Most reviewers
were disappointed in his conclusions “you can’t get there (localization of function) from here
(fMRI and other imaging work); and in fact you can’t get there from anywhere” (Uttal, 1990).
Anticipating the results of
Vul and associates (Vul, Harris, Winkielman, & Pashler, 2009), he noted that “by carefully (i.e.,
injudiciously) selecting from among the vast amount of data in a brain image, support for almost
any model of modularity or distribution can be sustained” (Uttal, 2008, p. 45). Few of his
reviewers could find fault in his analysis of the status quo, but typically noted that new
technologies were just around the corner that would address them. In this and successive books he
argued for distributed neural processing—most parts of the brain are active during any task, no
part of the brain is uniquely associated with any task, replicability of identified regions is very
poor—except for early sensory and late motor activations. His arguments were always based on
thorough review and analyses of empirical data, and were consistent with theories of “the positive
manifold” (Anderson, 2010), and “neural reuse” (Rabaglia, Marcus, & Lane, 2011). What bothered most
readers were that his conclusions were generally negative, and he did not offer a solution to the
deep problems he critiqued. Had he been able to do so, he—or anyone who could—would have earned a
Nobel prize by now. As Herb Roitblat said of Bill: “he was intellectually deeply curious and deeply
honest… in calling to task scientists who would oversell their ideas, [he would] do it with such
grace and good humor that I don’t think anyone ever really minded” (2017). I think that they
minded, but what could they say? For Bill was never confrontational; just clear and data-based and
Not all of Bill’s books concerned localization of function. Consider Psychomythics (Uttal, 2003)
which provides a helpful review a wide range of models in psychology, the first section ending with
“Mathematics is neutral in terms of internal mechanisms. The result of ignoring this dictum is the
inevitable proliferation of psychomyths” (p. 103). Thereafter the book enumerates such myths,
which researchers of any age, but especially ones new to the business and not yet committed to a
myth, would profit from reading. Bill was an expert witness, and so wrote books on neuroscience and
on human factors in the courtroom.
For fifteen years Bill and I and a physicist, and over the years joined by Art Glenberg, by a
historian of mathematics, a perceptual psychologist, a behavioral neuroscientist and a bioengineer,
would meet every other month to discuss philosophical and scientific ideas—they were our SEP rump
sessions. It seems that half the time the target of our discussion was Bill’s framework of
scientific realism—even though all of us shared many elements of that worldview. In his last book
he wrote “Of all of the scientific mysteries confronting our inquisitive species, none is more
profound or challenging than understanding how the tangible brain can give rise to intangible
thought” (Uttal, 2016). The bittersweet paradox of Bill’s life was that while he spent his career
searching for ways to solve that mystery, being unwilling to relax
his scientific standards, he could discover, time and again, only reasons why it was insoluble.
Bruce Bridgeman (1944-2016)
UC Santa Cruz professor of psychology and psychobiology, Bruce Bridgeman, an internationally renowned researcher on spatial orientation and neuroscience, was tragically killed July 10 after being struck by a bus in Taipei while crossing a multi-lane intersection. Bridgeman was due to speak that day at the Medical University of Taiwan. He and his wife, Dr. Diane Bridgeman, were on a speaking tour in Asia where both were giving talks.
Jerome S. Bruner (1915-2016)
Jerome Seymour Bruner was an American psychologist who made significant contributions to human cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology. Bruner was a senior research fellow at the New York University School of Law. He received a B.A. in 1937 from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1941. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Bruner as the 28th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
New York Times article
Washington Post article
New York University article
Suzanne Hammond Corkin (1937-2016)
Marlene Oscar Berman
Sue Corkin lost her battle with liver cancer six days after a joyous 79th birthday celebration amongst family and friends. She is survived by her children Jocelyn, Damon and J. Zachary, and seven grandchildren. After graduating from Smith College, Corkin completed graduate studies with Brenda Milner at McGill University followed by work with Hans-Lukas Teuber at MIT. After Teuber’s death in 1977, Sue became the principal investigator of the laboratory. While Corkin worked on many projects, she was especially devoted to the meticulous study of H.M., a man who developed severe anterograde amnesia subsequent to temporal-lobe surgery to abate debilitating epilepsy. These studies were unique and fundamental in advancing the neuroscience of memory and its disorders. More information can be found here.
Richard W. Held (1920-2016)
Dick Held died on November 21, 2016 at the age of 94. He was one of the earliest members of what is now the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and was its Chair in the later 70s, early 80s (when he was also my PhD advisor). He did foundational work on visual adaptation and, later, infant vision, among other topics. After retiring for a second time (from the New England College of Optometry), he became a fixture in Pawan Sinha’s lab, back at MIT. There he returned to his long interest in the classic problem of the vision of people whose sight had been restored after being blind (or nearly blind) since birth. He was in the lab regularly until he moved to western MA to be closer to his daughter just this year. I am forever in his debt and I will miss him.
Glyn Humphreys (1954-2016)
Glyn Humphreys, a UK based cognitive psychologist with a substantial international profile died suddenly on January 14, 2016, while in Hong Kong as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. A former editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, of the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, and founding editor of Visual Cognition, he was a prolific, influential and inspiring scientist until his untimely passing. He made major contributions to the understanding of visual processing both in healthy adults and in brain damaged adults following stroke. He was president of the UK Experimental Psychology Society, Chair of Psychology at the University of Birmingham, and later became Chair of Psychology at the University of Oxford. A memorial page with tributes has been set up at http://22.214.171.124/~glyn/. More is given at https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/feb/09/glyn-humphreys-obituary and https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/professor-glyn-humphreys-1954-2016
Earl Busby (Buz) Hunt (1933-2016)
Earl Busby (Buz) Hunt left us on April 12, 2016, age 83. Although slowed recently by various ailments, Buz continued working and enjoying family until the end. He received BA from Stanford (1954), then spent 3 years as a Marine officer before Yale and PhD with Carl Hovland (1960). Buz and Mary Lou (née Smith, married 1954) arrived at University of Washington in 1966. Buz’s first specializations were concept learning, mathematical modeling, and artificial intelligence. These extended soon to cultural and, especially, individual differences in cognition. Buz’s 1978 Psychological Review article (“Mechanics of verbal ability”) signaled his new and career-enduring interest in individual differences in intelligence. Buz was elected to Society of Experimental Psychologists in 1989 and received APS’s James McKeen Cattell Award in 2011.
John Krauskopf (1928-2016)
Jeremy Wolfe (who was introduced to vision research by Krauskopf while in high school)
John Krauskopf passed away on February 3, 2016, aged 87 following a long struggle with Parkinson’s. Krauskopf graduated from Cornell (1949). He received his PhD from Uinversity of Texas at Austin (1953) advised by ME Bitterman. He was a postdoc with Lorrin Riggs at Brown University. After assistant professorships at Brown and Rutgers, he joined Bell Laboratories (Murray Hill, NJ) from 1966-1986. From 1986-2003, he was a research professor at New York University. Krauskopf made contributions to many areas of vision research and is best known for early work on stabilized retinal images and a career’s worth of important contributions to color vision research. He received the International Color Vision Society’s Verriest Medal (1999) and the Optical Society’s Tillyer Award (2004). He was elected to the Society of Experimental Psychologists in 2000. More information available at http://www.forevermissed.com/john-krauskopf#lifestory
Stan Kuczaj (1951-2016)
Dr. Stan Kuczaj, professor of psychology and director of The University of Southern Mississippi’s internationally recognized Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory, died April 14 at his home in Hattiesburg. He was 65. Kuczaj joined the faculty of the University’s College of Education and Psychology in 1996. In addition to his duties as professor and director of the laboratory, his service included a stint as chairman of the Department of Psychology. More information available at: http://news.usm.edu/article/stan-kuczaj-professor-psychology-dies-april-14.
George Mandler (1925 - 2016)
George Mandler, founding chair of the University of California San Diego’s Department of Psychology and a central figure in psychology’s cognitive revolution, died in his London home on May 6, 2016 at age 91.
Mandler was born in Austria, on June 11, 1924. Mandler was active at UC San Diego from 1965 until recently, and spent time also at Harvard, University of Toronto, and University College London. Mandler authored nine books and over 150 articles and chapters. He received honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the William James Award, and he chaired the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society.
Mandler is survived by his wife, Jean; sons Peter and Michael; daughters-in-law Ruth Ehrlich and Sophie Mandler; grandchildren Ben and Hannah; and step-grandchildren Giovanni and Diana.
A full memoriam is at http://psychology.ucsd.edu/people/profiles/gmandler-in-memoriam.html.
Allan Urho Paivio (1925-2016)
Mark L. Howe and Charles J. Brainerd
Al Paivio passed away on June 19, 2016. He earned his Ph.D. from McGill University and was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario. It was at Western where we met Al, MLH was his M.A. and Ph.D. student and CJB was a departmental colleague. We have both benefitted immensely from the many discussions we were fortunate enough to have with Al about how information is represented in memory. An eminent scholar and scientist, Al is perhaps best known for the development of dual coding theory. This prominent theory as to how information is represented in memory not only advanced our understanding of mental representations in the 20th century, when his book Imagery and Verbal Processes was first published in 1971, but is still a powerful force in the 21st century with the publication of Mind and its Evolution: A Dual Coding Theoretical Approach in 2006. This short obituary will be updated with a link to a longer obituary when available.
George H. Collier (1921 – 2015)
George Collier died in his home on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at the age of 94. He was a professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick for more than 45 years and continued his research for many years after his retirement. He served as the chair of the psychology department there for several years. He was President of the Eastern Psychological Association in 1995-1996. He published more than 100 scholarly papers, focusing on the effects of ecological factors (procurement costs, patchiness, encounter frequency, time limitations, risks, etc.) on feeding behavior, trying to understand in its full richness the manner in which this basic behavior was controlled. He received the Distinguished Career Award from the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior and the Distinguished Research Award of the Trustees of Rutgers University. His wife, Carolyn Rovee-Collier predeceased him. He was a great outdoorsman and a small-scale sheep farmer, a true gentleman and scholar. More can be found at http://www.holcombefisher.com/obituaries/obituary-listings?obId=487162#/obituaryInfo.
Ronald A. Finke (1950-2015)
Steven M. Smith & Thomas B. Ward
Ronald A. Finke died on November 4, 2015. He completed his Ph.D. at MIT (1979), with postdoctoral positions at Cornell and Stanford, and faculty positions at UC-Davis, SUNY-Stonybrook, Texas A&M University, and Texas State University. Ron authored numerous influential books and papers on mental imagery and creative cognition, including Creative Cognition: Theory, Research, and Applications (1992, Finke, Ward & Smith) andPrinciples of Mental Imagery (1989, Finke). He created strikingly original theoretical constructs about fundamental cognitive processes, finding convincing ways to empirically demonstrate them. His original contributions and discoveries include emergent properties in visualized combinations, representational momentum, and the geneplore theory of creative cognition. Ron was a brilliant and creative man with a wry and imaginative sense of humor. More can be found at http://www.psych.txstate.edu/faculty/finke.html.
Nicholas Mackintosh (1935 – 2015)
Professor Nicholas Mackintosh, FRS, former Head of the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, died 8th February 2015, in Bury St Edmunds. http://www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/news/professor-nicholas-mackintosh
Alison Morris (1958 – 2015)
Anne Cleary & Veronica Dark
Alison Morris, Associate Professor of Psychology at Iowa State University, passed away unexpectedly on November 21, 2014. Alison received her Ph.D. from Boston University in 2000, where she worked with Catherine Caldwell-Harris. Alison studied processes occurring at the intersection between attention, perception and memory. She had particular interest in visual word recognition, especially the processes producing repetition blindness. Alison developed a computational model to account for the phenomena that she studied. Alison regularly presented at the annual Psychonomic Society meeting. Her students and colleagues were expecting her to be present for her poster when they learned of her passing. A wise and witty woman, Alison's nonacademic side included being a trained storm spotter and a die hard Green Bay Packers fan. More can be found here http://www.iowastatedaily.com/news/academics/article_0e16f432-8198-11e4-a986-5b33b4ac2b98.html
David Premack (1925 - 2015)
David Premack, retired from the University of Pennsylvania, died at the age of 89 on June 11, 2015. His career spanned a major revolution in psychology from behaviorism to cognitive psychology. The Premack Principle was an important modification to reinforcement theory that stipulated that reinforcement is a relative, not an absolute property. He studied chimpanzees when testing reinforcement theory and then later showed that these primates could comprehend and produce conceptual relations using a “language” of visual symbols. Later he and his student Guy Woodruff introduced the influential concept “Theory of Mind” that is an active area of research in comparative and developmental psychology among others. He demonstrated that chimpanzees can solve analogies and make causal inferences. See more at: http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v62/n02/obit.html#premack and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Premack.
Keith Rayner (1943 – 2015)
Keith Rayner, the world’s leading figure in the study of skilled reading using eye-movement methodologies, died on January, 21, 2015 from complications due to cancer. Keith began his career at the University of Rochester, before serving a long tenure at the University of Massachusetts and concluding as Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego. He won many awards for his contributions to research and mentorship, including from societies in the USA, UK, and China. He served on the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society from 1995-2001, serving the last year as its chair. He published more than 400 articles, 1 book, and 10 edited volumes. A full obituary can be found at http://www.psychology.ucsd.edu/people/profiles/krayner-in-memoriam.html, and memories of Keith can be left at http://www.forevermissed.com/keith-rayner/
Janet Taylor Spence (1923 – 2015)
Janet Taylor Spence, influential researcher and professional leader, died on March 16, 2015, at the age of 91, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, after a short illness. Janet served on the Governing Board of Psychonomic Society (1978-1983) and chaired its Publications Committee. She was unique in having been president of both the American Psychological Association (1984) and the Association for Psychological Science (1988). In her University of Iowa dissertation (Ph.D. 1949), supervised by Kenneth Spence (whom she married in 1959), she created the widely-used Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale. In later years she made trailblazing contributions to the study of gender. Her academic career, marked by many “first to’s”, began at Northwestern University (1949-1960) and ended with her retirement from the University of Texas in 1987. More can be found at: http://www.capecodtimes.com/article/20150405/OBITUARIES/150409665/101063/NEWS and in a filmed interview at: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/video/janet-taylor-spence-itps.html.
Harriett Amster (1928 – 2014)
David Gorfein and Ruth Maki
Harriett Amster, Professor of Psychology, at the University of Texas, Arlington, from 1977 to her retirement in 2006 passed away on October 21, 2014. Dr. Amster, received her Ph.D. from Clark University, in 1960, and pursued a career involving human learning and memory, which evolved into research focusing on verbal meaning and lexical ambiguity processing. As a member of the Psychonomic Society she presented her first paper at the 1964 annual meeting. Papers bearing her name were quite regularly presented at the annual meeting with the last presented in 2009. In addition to her interest in language processing she also served the journal, Psychology of Women Quarterly from 1973-1976, and as a consulting editor from 1977 to 1983.
Thomas K. Landauer (1933 – 2014)
Robert A. Bjork
Thomas K. Landauer, one of the most creative and innovative cognitive scientists of his generation, died on March 26, 2014, at age 81. After a PhD at Harvard, Tom held faculty positions at Dartmouth, Stanford, and Princeton before spending 25 years at Bell Laboratories and Bellcore, where he created one of the first research programs in human-computer interaction. After returning to the University of Colorado, his undergraduate alma mater, Tom carried out his seminal work on Latent Semantic Analysis and founded Knowledge Analysis Technologies, reflecting his desire to turn research into real-world products. For more on Tom’s life and how his wit, wisdom, and insights inspired so many of us, see http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dailycamera/obituary.aspx?pid=170505204, written by his wife, Lynn, and http://psych-www.colorado.edu/docs/Landauer-obituary-Apr-2014.pdf.
Patrick Colonel Suppes (1922 – 2014)
Patrick Colonel Suppes, age 92, died on Thursday November 17, 2014 of natural causes in his home at Stanford, California. Pat graduated from the University of Chicago during the darkest days of WWII. Following two years of military service in the South Pacific he began graduate training at Columbia University with Ernest Nagel in 1947. His 1950 PhD thesis “The problem of action at a distance” presaged a future of stunning theoretical achievements. Sixty-four years at Stanford as a professor of Philosophy, Statistics, Education and Psychology provided ample opportunity for collaborations leading to the publication of 32 books and hundreds of technical reports and articles. His deep knowledge of the foundations for mathematical and set-theoretical thinking generated excellent advances in the foundations of physics and quantum mechanics, decision theory, foundations of probability and causality, foundations of psychology, philosophy of language, education and computers, and philosophy of science. As early as 1967 his practical application of these ideas created computer assisted instruction and introduced computers in grade schools as teaching aids. As a founder and Director of The Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences Suppes brought to Stanford outstanding scientists and graduate students who complemented his mathematical analyses of difficult issues. His awards and honors, his rank of Captain during WWII, his award of the National Medal of Science in 1990, and his generous financial contributions to Stanford University distinguish him as a man of rare talents used to clarity and formalize of the foundations of many disciplines. We can remember him as an excellent teacher, a delightfully enthusiastic professor, and a man of rare genius whose talents improved the lives of the people around him, as well as the lives of many who will follow. http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/november/patrick-suppes-obit-112514.html
Richard F. Thompson (1930 – 2014)
Richard F. Thompson, the Keck chair emeritus at USC and a pioneer of behavioral neuroscience, died at home of natural causes September 16, 2014. Thompson played a leading role in the ascendance of studies of learning and memory in modern neuroscience. Educated at Reed College then earning a University of Wisconsin PhD, Thompson’s textbook, Foundations of Physiological Psychology (1967), shaped the burgeoning field. A founder of the Psychonomic Society, Thompson taught at University of California, Irvine, Harvard University, and Stanford University before USC. He was best known for his research tracing out brain circuits underlying behavioral habituation and classical conditioning. Thompson published more than 450 articles and mentored 60 PhD and post-doctoral students. Information about Thompson’s life is at https://news.usc.edu/68781/in-memoriam-richard-thompson-84 plus his autobiography in Squire, L.R. (Ed.) The history of neuroscience in autobiography, Vol. 4 (2004).
Jonathan Vaughan (1944 – 2014)
David A. Rosenbaum
Jonathan Vaughan, a member of the Psychonomic Society Publication Committee from 2004-2010, designer of the Society’s logo and website, died on September 14, 2014 of cancer-related pneumonia. Jon taught legions of students in his long tenure at Hamilton College. Included among his protégé’s was Cathleen Moore, the incoming Chair of the Society’s Governing Board. From 1999-2004 he served as Editor of what was then called Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers. Jon made significant contributions to the study of human perception and performance. He co-authored a 2014 book, MATLAB For Behavioral Scientists. For more information about Jon’s life, including a video tribute to him, see http://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/hamilton-mourns-the-death-of-professor-jonathan-vaughan.