Leyla Isik, Ph.D.

Year of Graduation: 



Prof. Tomaso Poggio

Current Position: 

Claire Booth Luce Assistant Professor, Department of Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University

Isik Lab Website 

Humans perceive the world in rich visual detail. In just a fraction of a second, we not only detect the objects and people in our environment, but also quickly recognize people’s emotions, goals, actions, and social interactions. Detecting these higher level properties is extremely challenging even for state-of-the-art computer vision systems. How do humans extract all of this complex information with such speed and ease? My research aims to answer this question using a combination of human neuroimaging, intracranial recordings, machine learning, and behavioral techniques. Before joining Johns Hopkins, I was a postdoctoral researcher at MIT and Harvard in the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines working with Nancy Kanwisher and Gabriel Kreiman. I completed my PhD at MIT where I was advised by Tomaso Poggio


Doctoral Thesis Title: The dynamic of invariant object and action recognition in the human visual system


Publications while at MIT:

1. Invariant Recognition Shapes Neural Representations of Visual Input.

Tacchetti A, Isik L, Poggio TA.

Annu Rev Vis Sci. 2018 Sep 15;4:403-422. doi: 10.1146/annurev-vision-091517-034103. Epub 2018 Jul 27.



2. Invariant recognition drives neural representations of action sequences.

Tacchetti A, Isik L, Poggio T.

PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 Dec 18;13(12):e1005859. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005859. eCollection 2017 Dec.

PMID: 29253864 Free PMC Article


3. A fast, invariant representation for human action in the visual system.

Isik L, Tacchetti A, Poggio T.

J Neurophysiol. 2018 Feb 1;119(2):631-640. doi: 10.1152/jn.00642.2017. Epub 2017 Nov 8.



4. Perceiving social interactions in the posterior superior temporal sulcus.

Isik L, Koldewyn K, Beeler D, Kanwisher N.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Oct 24;114(43):E9145-E9152. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1714471114. Epub 2017 Oct 9. Erratum in: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Dec 26;:.

PMID:29073111 Free PMC Article


5. What is changing when: Decoding visual information in movies from human intracranial recordings.

Isik L, Singer J, Madsen JR, Kanwisher N, Kreiman G.

Neuroimage. 2018 Oct 15;180(Pt A):147-159. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.08.027. Epub 2017 Aug 18.



6. The dynamics of invariant object recognition in the human visual system.

Isik L, Meyers EM, Leibo JZ, Poggio T.

J Neurophysiol. 2014 Jan;111(1):91-102. doi: 10.1152/jn.00394.2013. Epub 2013 Oct 2.

PMID:24089402  Free PMC Article


7. Learning and disrupting invariance in visual recognition with a temporal association rule.

Isik L,Leibo JZ, Poggio T.

Front Comput Neurosci. 2012 Jun 25;6:37. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2012.00037. eCollection 2012.

PMID:22754523 Free PMC Article