Nora Chen

I am a senior undergraduate student at the University of California San Diego majoring in Cognitive Science and specializing 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 exploring the cognitive underpinnings that allow people to understand and make fast, robust inferences about diverse, unknown physical phenomena. To facilitate these capabilities, I research how latent physical properties can be inferred from observed data and how humans use this information to improve predictive models of the world. Through this, I aim to shed light on the cognitive processes enabling robust inferential performance and inform the design of artificial intelligence systems that are better equipped to cope with the dynamic, uncertain nature of the physical world and more attuned to its nuanced complexities. 

Currently, I reside as a Research Fellow at Harvard University in the Computation, Cognition, and Development Lab.

GitHub / Email / CV / Academic CV


Physical Intuition and the Role of Counterfactual Reasoning: Insights from Jenga and Fluid Dynamics Simulations


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. 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 delivered at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society conference, San Francisco, CA, April 2022. 

Independent Projects:


This search interface provides direct links to PDF documents related to Intuitive Physics and AI Ethics and includes a feature to generate a random paper from the available search results, with a Chrome extension in development:  

Edge Write:

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