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Yinan Cao

B.Eng (Tsinghua); M.A (McGill); Clarendon Scholar

Human Information Processing (Summerfield Lab)

Neural and computational mechanisms underlying flexible inference and decision-making

I am supervised by Prof. Chris Summerfield, Prof. Christoph Kayser (Bielefeld, Germany) and Prof. Charles Spence. My DPhil has been funded by the Clarendon Scholarship.

My D.Phil. research centers on reconciling previous different computational accounts of multisensory decision-making, by combining some hardcore psychophysics, behavior models and MEG. How does the brain arbitrate between the expediency of fusing multimodal signals (for better precision) and the imperative to perform causal structure inference (for lower bias) in service of optimal behavior? My work provides a plausible account that bridges the frontal cortex functions, adaptive behavior and multisensory computations at distinct timescales. In one study along this line (, I and my colleagues and mentors show that distinct computational strategies are orchestrated in temporal sequence and along a cerebral hierarchy to guide flexible behavior.

Learning about the structures of the world facilitates proper decisions and actions in novel environment sharing those structures. I am particularly interested in causal graphs and structures. These are fascinating directions that I want to pursue.

Key publications

Recent publications

More publications


  • Clarendon Scholarship, Oxford University (2015-8)
  • NSERC-Create Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Graduate Fellowship (2013-4)
  • CIRMMT Research Exchange Fellowship (2013)
  • Graduate Excellence Fellowship, McGill University (2011-3)
  • Award for Academic Excellence, Tsinghua University (2007, 8, 9, 10)