Nora Chen

I am a junior undergraduate student at the University of California San Diego majoring in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Machine Learning and Neural Computation. In the UCSD Department of Psychology, I am a research assistant in the Cognitive Tools Lab advised by Dr. Judith Fan.

Research: I am interested in how people understand the physical world around them and how they can make fast, robust inferences about diverse, unknown physical phenomena. To facilitate these capabilities, I study how latent physical properties can be extracted from observed data and how humans use this information to improve predictive models of the world. Through this, I hope to contribute to creating safer AI systems that are more attuned to the complexities of the real world.

GitHub / Email / CV


Aristotelian Physics and the Power of Intuition: A Study of the Human Intuitive Physics Engine [Draft]

[Drafts available upon request]

We show that people can use counterfactual reasoning to make inferences about the physical world, even when kinetic information is degraded. Furthermore, we extend and focus on the specific physical properties that lead people to determine the viscosity of a liquid in our three fluid simulations.

The Role of Perception in Language Comprehension


In this paper, I show that the motor system plays a vital role in understanding language. I discuss this role's empirical and theoretical implications. I suggest that the motor system may be necessary for understanding language in general and not just for specific tasks or language phenomena and conclude by discussing the implications of this research for our understanding of language and cognition.


N. Chen, E. Cain, and R. Ryskin. Meaning Representations Across Life Span. Poster presentation to be delivered at the 2022 UROC Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Merced, CA, August 2022. Poster Info

N. Chen, D. Richardson, and E. Isbell. Identifying eye movements in pediatric electroencephalogram (EEG): A machine learning approach. Cognitive Neuroscience Society. Poster presentation to be delivered at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society conference, San Francisco, CA, April 2022.