Human and Machine Cognition Lab

Since October 2020, Dr. Charley Wu is head of the 'Human and Machine Cognition Lab', an Independent Research Group, which is located both at the Cluster of Excellence 'Machine Learning' and the Tübingen AI Center.

Research Interests

What are the representations, computations, and approxi­mations that allow people to navigate a complex and social world with only limited cognitive resources?

The study of human cognition and artificial intelligence are tightly intertwined. Research on human learning has directly inspired algorithms for training artificial agents, while advances in AI have provided novel insights into the nature of human intelligence. Although some machine learning algorithms have reached human-level expertise, there remain important gaps between the efficiency of human and machine learning. How do people learn so rapidly and from so few examples? And how do we reason about and learn from other people?

To address these questions, we study human behavior through online experiments in the form of an interactive game, in the lab using computers or virtual reality equipment, or using naturally occurring data from online games. We then use computational models inspired by reinforcement learning or machine learning methods, to understand key features of human cognition, such as how we rapidly learn in novel environments or how we use Theory of Mind to infer the hidden beliefs of other people. These models are then validated by predicting human behavior, neural activity, or through evolutionary simulations.

Ultimately, the goal of the lab is to understand the specific shortcuts and cognitive algorithms that separates human intelligence from our best artificial algorithms.

Further Information

For further information visit Charley Wu's Lab Website.


Charley Wu joins the University of Tübingen via Harvard University, where he was a postdoc working jointly with Sam Gershman and Fiery Cushman. Charley’s work is primarily concerned with understanding how people learn from sparse examples and from other people in social settings. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia, a M.Sc. in Cognitive Science from the University of Vienna, and completed a PhD in Psychology from Humboldt University of Berlin while based at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
Using a combination of statistical and machine learning models, Charley Wu’s research seeks to understand the cognitive shortcuts that allow humans to learn efficiently and behave intelligently, both individually and in groups. He has published in journals such as Nature Human Behaviour, Psychological Science, and PLOS Computational Biology.


Dr. Charley Wu
Human and Machine Cognition Lab

University Tübingen
Cluster of Excellence "Machine Learning"
Maria-von-Linden-Str. 6, 4th floor
Room No. 40-5/A11
72076 Tübingen

+49 7071 29 70799