Zhong-Lin Lu

Zhong-Lin Lu
Area Head of Neuroscience, Chief Scientist, Co-Director of the NYU-ECNU Institute of Brain and Cognitive Science and Associate Provost for the Sciences, Professor of Neuroscience, NYU Shanghai; Global Network Professor, NYU

Zhong-Lin Lu is NYU Shanghai’s Chief Scientist and Associate Provost for Sciences. He also leads the NYU-ECNU Institute of Brain and Cognitive Science at NYU Shanghai.

As Chief Scientist and Associate Provost for Sciences, Lu’s broad charge is to develop a strategic vision for transforming NYU Shanghai into a world-class research university, identifying core areas of scientific research, fostering multidisciplinary research programs, building strong partnerships between NYU Shanghai and other elements of the NYU global network, seeking collaborative opportunities with academic, industry and other partners, and nurturing a collaborative scientific research environment.

Lu joined NYU Shanghai in 2019 from Ohio State University, where he was the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Professor of Psychology, Optometry, and Translational Data Analytics, and Director of the Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Brain Imaging.

Lu’s research has been driven by a desire to develop computational brain models for perception and cognition– models that are sufficiently computational such that they can be represented in a computer program or in mathematical theory. He deploys a rich set of experimental and theoretical approaches: psychophysical experimentation, physiological investigation, clinical testing, and computational modeling. His research spans a wide range of topics covering (1) visual and auditory perception, attention, and perceptual learning, (2) sensory and attentional processes, second language learning, memory, and human decision making, (3) visual deficits in myopia, dyslexia, amblyopia & Alzheimer's disease, and (4) brain imaging technologies and data analytics.

Lu has enjoyed an extremely versatile career--from making ground-breaking scientific discoveries to developing technological and analytical tools to solve real world problems. He has published more than 300 scientific papers (including landmark papers in Science, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, PNAS) and has been cited more than 13,000 times.  He has co-authored two books, edited 12 book volumes and received 12 patents (two in visual disease treatment, five in visual and cognitive assessment, five in MRI technologies). As an entrepreneur, he is a co-founder of Adaptive Sensory Technology, Inc., a company that is devoted to transforming eye care with precision measurement through development of the next generation Bayesian adaptive vision tests for ophthalmology and optometry.

Lu is a fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists and the Association for Psychological Science. When he was appointed fellow in 2003, he was the youngest member ever in the society’s 110 year history.  He also served on multiple editorial boards, including as Associate Editor of Psychological Review.

A physicist by training, Lu obtained a B.S. in theoretical physics from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1989, and through the China-U.S. Physics Examination and Application (CUSPEA) program, earned his Ph.D. in physics at New York University in 1992 under the guidance of Samuel J. Williamson. After a four-year postdoctoral fellowship in Cognitive Science at the University of California, Irvine with George Sperling, he joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California as an Assistant Professor in 1996, rising to Professor of Psychology and Biomedical Engineering in 2005 and William M. Keck Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2006. He was co-Director of the Dana and David Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center at USC before joining the Ohio State University in 2011. 

Select Publications

  • Lu, Z.-L. & Dosher B. (2008) Characterizing observers using external noise and observer models: assessing internal representations with external noise. Psychological Review, 115(1):44-82
  • Li, X., Lu, Z.-L., Tjan, B. S., Dosher, B. & Chu, W. (2008) Blood oxygenation level-dependent contrast response functions identify mechanisms of covert attention in early visual areas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, 105: 6202-6207
  • Sperling, A. J., Lu, Z.-L., Manis, F. R. & Seidenberg, M. S. (2005) Deficits in template formation may underlie the etiology of developmental dyslexia, Nature Neuroscience, 7 (8), 862-863
  • Petrov, A., Dosher, B. & Lu, Z.-L., (2005) Perceptual learning through incremental channel reweighting. Psychological Review, 112 (4), 715-743
  • Lu, Z.-L. & Dosher, B. (1998) External noise distinguishes mechanisms of attention. Vision Research, 38, 1183-1198



  • PhD, Physics
    New York University