Elisabeth Karuza



Assistant Professor of Psychology
Preferred Pronouns: she/her/hers
(814) 863-4721


Ph.D., University of Rochester, 2014

Professional Bio

Research Interests:

Humans are the ultimate pattern learners. We absorb a constant stream of complicated, noisy data and somehow emerge with a deep understanding of structures like language, categories, even what kinds of events are likely to follow one another in time. That “somehow” is the focus of my lab. Given known constraints on the human brain, how do learners extract the information they need from the environment, often without realizing they are doing it? To answer this question my lab takes a multi-pronged approach. We use a variety of behavioral methods to examine learners’ sensitivity to both the simple associations and network-level structures around them, with a particular focus on which patterns best facilitate learning.  We also study the neural mechanisms underlying pattern learning through brain imaging techniques such as fMRI. Finally, we investigate the conditions under which learning can be boosted or impeded, including asking whether brain stimulation might be a useful tool in this endeavor.

Representative Publications:

Karuza, E.A., Emberson, L.L., Roser, M.E., Aslin, R.N., Cole, D., & Fiser, J. (2017).
The neural signature of spatial statistical learning: Characterizing the extraction of structure from complex visual scenes. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Karuza, E.A., Kahn, A.E., Thompson-Schill, S.L., & Bassett, D.S. (2017). Process reveals structure: How a network is traversed mediates expectations about its architecture. Scientific Reports, 7.

Karuza, E.A., Balewski, Z.Z., Hamilton, R.H., Medaglia, J.D., Tardiff, N., & Thompson-Schill, S.L. (2016). Mapping the parameter space of tDCS and cognitive control via manipulation of current polarity and intensity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10.

Karuza, E. A., Li, P., Weiss, D. J., Bulgarelli, F., Zinszer, B. D., & Aslin, R. N. (2016). Sampling over nonuniform distributions: A neural efficiency account of the primacy effect in statistical learning. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28, 1484–1500.

Karuza, E.A., Thompson-Schill, S.L., & Bassett, D.S. (2016). Local patterns to global architectures: Influences of network topology on human learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20, 629–640.

Karuza, E.A.*, Emberson, L.L.*, & Aslin, R.N. (2014). Combining fMRI and behavioral measures to examine the process of human learning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 109, 193–206.
*Co-first authors

Karuza, E.A., Newport, E.L., Aslin, R.N., Starling, S.J., Tivarus, M.E., & Bavelier, D. (2013). Neural correlates of statistical learning in a word segmentation task: An fMRI study. Brain and Language, 127, 46–54.

Elisabeth  Karuza
Elisabeth  Karuza