John V. McDonnell


I am a doctoral candidate at the NYU Computation & Cognition Lab trying to understand how humans acquire and represent conceptual information, including concepts, categories and causal knowledge structures.

I do this by building and testing computational models of human cognition. I've also been pioneering our lab's use of Amazon's Mechanical Turk service to bring cognitive research into the 21st century, as the maintainer of the PsiTurk platform.

Curriculum Vitæ

Web Presence


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • McDonnell, J.V. and Gureckis, T.M. (in review). "From few to many: Generalizing category labels via semi-supervised learning"
  • Crump, M. J. C., McDonnell, J.V., and Gureckis, T.M. (2013). "Evaluating Amazon's Mechanical Turk as a Tool for Experimental Behavioral Research." PLoS ONE. 8(3). [pdf| html]
  • Pothos, E.M., Perlman, A., Bailey, T.M., Kurtz, K., Hines, P., McDonnell, J.V. (2011). "Measuring category intuitiveness in unconstrained categorization tasks." Cognition. 121: 83–100. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2011.06.002
  • Giordano, B.L., McDonnell, J., and McAdams, S. (2010). "Hearing living symbols and nonliving icons: Category specificities in the cognitive processing of environmental sounds." Brain and Cognition. 73: 7–19. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2010.01.005

Conference Proceedings

  • McDonnell, J.V., Tsividis, P., Rehder, B. (2013). "Reasoning with Inconsistent Causal Beliefs." In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.) Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [pdf]*
  • McDonnell, J.V., Jew, C.J., and Gureckis, T.M. (2012). "Sparse category labels obstruct generalization of category membership." In N. Miyake, D. Peebles, & R. P. Cooper (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [pdf|html]
  • Giordano, B.L., McAdams, S., and McDonnell, J. (2007). "Acoustical and conceptual information for the perception of animate and inanimate sound sources." In G.P. Scavone (Ed.), Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Auditory Display (ICAD2007), 173–180. Montreal, Canada: Schulich School of Music, McGill University.

*This paper was the winner of the modeling prize for higher-level cognition.

Book Chapter

  • McDonnell, J.V. and Gureckis, T.M. (2011). "Adaptive Clustering Models of Categorization." Invited chapter in Pothos and Wills (Eds.), Formal Approaches in Categorization. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. [@Cambridge]

Manuscripts in Preparation

  • McDonnell, J.V., Tsividis, P., and Rehder, B. (in prep). "Finding coherence with inconsistent causal information."
  • McDonnell, J.V., Tomkins, S., and Gureckis, T.M. (in prep). "Active learning of logical rules."
  • McDonnell, J.V., and Gureckis, T.M. (in prep). "Semi-supervised learning of naturalistic stimuli."