Yuan Chang Leong

Yuan Chang Leong

Assistant Professor

University of Chicago

Imagine playing a heated tennis match and hitting a shot that might or might not have just grazed the sidelines. Would your motivation to win make you more likely to see the ball as having stayed within bounds? Most of us can think of times when we or people we know were biased to see what is desirable, rather than what is really there. How does this happen, and what can we do about it?

My research examines the different ways in which goals, desires and needs affect how people perceive and respond to our environment. My work draws from the traditions of cognitive neuroscience, social psychology and affective science. I use a broad range of methodological tools, including behavioral experiments, computational modeling, fMRI, pupillometry, naturalistic paradigms and network analyses. By combining different tools and perspectives, I seek to characterize motivational influences on human cognition at the psychological, computational and neural levels. One ultimate goal of this work is to identify behavioral and neural targets of intervention to improve socio-cognitive functioning.

I direct the Motivation and Cognition Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Chicago. You can learn more about my lab here: https://mcnlab.uchicago.edu/.

  • Postdoctoral Scholar

    UC Berkeley | Advisor - Mark D'Esposito

  • PhD in Psychology, 2019

    Stanford University | Advisor - Jamil Zaki

  • AB in Psychology, 2013

    Princeton University | Advisor - Yael Niv