Welcome to the Schloss Visual Reasoning Lab! We are part of the Department of Psychology and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Virtual Environments Group at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The lab is located on on ancestral Ho-Chunk Land as recognized in the UW-Madison Land Acknowledgment

Our lab aims to understand how people use visual reasoning for visual communication.  We study how people form associations between visual features (e.g., color, shape) and concepts, and how they use those associations to interpret meanings of visual features in information visualizations (e.g., graphs, maps, diagrams, signs). Our lab also investigates how to increase engagement in science through immersive experiences in scientific visualizations using virtual reality. Our work can be translated to making visual communication more effective and efficient.


Poster adapted from Dr. Sammy Katta after Dr. Karen Schloss took the pledge committing to continuous allyship for marginalized and underrepresented communities. Poster text reads: In this lab, we believe: science is real (microscope image), love is love (rainbow anatomical heart), Black lives matter (brown raised fist), feminism is for everyone (female symbol), trans rights are human rights (transgender flag), disabilities deserve accessibility (multiple disability symbols), immigrants are welcome (statue of liberty).



New Publication: Color semantics in human cognition

New paper “Color semantics in human cognition,” was published in Current Directions in Psychological Science. AUthor: Karen B. Schloss   People have associations between colors...
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Dr. Melissa Schoenlein defended her dissertation!

Dr. Melissa Schoenlein defended her dissertation on Effects of color category structure on learning and generalization of color-concept associations for novel concepts. Now, Melissa is off...
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Students presented their research at the 2024 Undergraduate Research Symposium

.  Students from the Schloss Visual Reasoning Lab presented their work at the 27th annual Undergraduate Symposium! The annual Undergraduate Symposium showcases undergraduate creativity, achievement,...
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Featured Publications

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Color semantics in human cognition

Schloss, K. B.

Current Directions in Psychological Science, 33, 1, 58-67.

More of what? Dissociating effects of conceptual and numeric mappings on interpreting colormap data visualizations. 

Soto, L., Schoenlein, M. A., & Schloss, K. B.
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 8, 38, 1-17.

The UW Virtual Brain Project™: An immersive approach to teaching functional neuroanatomy

Schloss, K. B., Schoenlein, M. A., Tredinnick, R., Smith, S. Miller, N. Racey, C. Castro, C. Rokers, B.

Translational Issues in Psychological Science

A holey perspective on Venn diagrams

Bartel, A. N., Lande, K. J., Roos, J., & Schloss, K. B.

Cognitive Science

Color-concept association formation for novel concepts

Schoenlein, M. A. & Schloss, K. B.

Visual Cognition

Unifying Effects of Direct and Relational Associations for Visual Communication

Schoenlein, M. A., Campos, J., Lande, K. J., Lessard, L., & Schloss, K. B.


Context Matters: A Theory of Semantic Discriminability for
Perceptual Encoding Systems

Kushin Mukherjee, Brian Yin, Brianne E. Sherman, Laurent Lessard, and Karen B. Schloss

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics