Don Vaughn

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Don Vaughn
Don Vaughn in October 2011
EducationStanford University
Scientific career

Don Vaughn is an American neuroscientist and science communicator. He is a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Behavior[1] and adjunct faculty at Santa Clara University.

His perceptual research aims to elucidate neural mechanisms of consciousness and perception using machine learning. Vaughn has presented his findings on empathy and neuroplasticity in a TEDx talk[2] as well as at the Society for Neuroscience[3][4] and DARPA Network Narratives.[5]



Working in David Eagleman's laboratory,[6] Vaughn helped discover that brains create perception by integrating peri-dictively, that is, information both before and after an event contribute to our perception of it.[7] Eagleman and Vaughn also discovered the "glimpse effect", in which briefly glimpsed photographs of people were judged to be more attractive than the same photographs viewed for a long duration.[8]

As a QCBio Collaboratory Fellow, he teaches a seminar on modern statistical methods (permutations, machine learning, bootstrapping) to UCLA faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students.[9] He also taught machine learning at the UCLA NITP Summer Course.[10] He earned his PhD in neuroscience at UCLA with his thesis entitled "Using Machine-Learning to Diagnose Perception, Feeling, and Action: A Study of Neuroimaging, Psychometric, and Insurance Claims Data".[11]

Recently, Vaughn and Ariana Anderson received a grant from UCLA's CTSI Research to develop ChatterBaby, an app that facilitates communication between hearing-impaired parents and their hearing-abled babies. The app facilitates communication between parent and child by translating sound into colored waveforms in real-time, allowing parents to develop a visual intuition of what their and their babies's speech sounds like. This "sensory substitution" will allow parents to not only recognize patterns when their child speaks, but also tailor their own speech patterns to what best allows them to communicate with their child. ChatterBaby is featured in Vaughn's TEDx talk, but is undergoing more development before public release.[2]

Vaughn and Eagleman created an app, eyeFi [12] which acts as a reverse visualizer, turning video information into sound. eyeFi is an entertainment of a deeper concept the two were exploring on using sensory substitution to overcome visual impairments by translating vision into audio for the blind.


Vaughn gave a TEDx talk at UCLA on neuroplasticity, entitled "Neurohacking: Rewiring Your Brain".[2][13]


Vaughn has made TV appearances on Entertainment Tonight,[14] The Today Show,[15] Nova ScienceNow,[16] ShapingHOU,[17] Great Day Houston,[18] and Local KPRC.[19] Vaughn has been featured in Time,[20] 002houston,[21] Cosmopolitan,[22] Houston Magazine,[23] First Class Magazine,[24] Houston Chronicle,[25] Daily Bruin,[26] and Culture Map.[27]

Music career[edit]

From 2012 to 2015 Vaughn was also a DJ and producer. His first album, entitled The Don Vaughn Experiment,[28][29] featured former 98 Degrees singer Nick Lachey, reached #28 on the iTunes Dance charts.

Victoria Vesna, Mark Cohen, Vaughn, and others in the art and science community at UCLA[30] presented a performance entitled "brainstorming" at Sonos Studios[31] in Los Angeles. The exhibit explored the effect of music on feelings of connectedness, and how brain activity changed as a result.


  1. ^ "Semel Institute Profiles".
  2. ^ a b c "Neurohacking: rewiring y our brain | Don Vaughn | TEDxUCLA". Youtube.
  3. ^ "Neuroscience 2011". Abstracts Online.
  4. ^ "Neuroscience 2012". Abstracts Online.
  5. ^ "Neuroscience 2010". Abstracts Online.
  6. ^ "Eagleman Laboratory: For Perception and Action". Eagleman Laboratory.
  7. ^ Vaughn, Don A.; Eagleman, David M. (2013). "Spatial warping by oriented line detectors can counteract neural delays". Frontiers in Psychology. 4: 794. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00794. PMC 3814518. PMID 24198798.
  8. ^ "Briefly Glimpsed People are more Attractive" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biology | W14: Introduction to Modern Statistics". Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  10. ^ "Advanced Neuroimaging 2014 Summer Program". Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  11. ^ "UCLA online theses and dissertations".
  12. ^ "eyeFi".
  13. ^ "Neurohacking: rewiring your brain".
  14. ^ "ET Speed Dates Cosmo's Hottest 2012 Bachelors".
  15. ^ "Cosmo's 50 hottest bachelors bare it all on Today — Houston's most eligible included".
  16. ^ Vaughn, Don. "Don Vaughn - IMDB". IMDB.
  17. ^ "Shaping:Houston".
  18. ^ "Bachelor of the year".
  19. ^ "Don Vaughn: Cosmo Bachelor Of The Year Contest".
  20. ^ "A Scan of My Very Attractive Brain". Time.
  21. ^ "002houston Magazine's November issue: Behind the Scenes".
  22. ^ Vaughn, Don. "Cosmo 2012 Hottest Bachelors". Cosmopolitan.
  23. ^ "Sceleb | Don Vaughn".
  24. ^ "Firstclass Magazine: Top Ten People Of The Year".
  25. ^ "Scientist studies the brain by day, plays the drums at clubs by night". Houston Chronicle.
  26. ^ "Speaking Their Minds".
  27. ^ "Neuroscientist drummer hunk chooses Houston for his CD launch, reveals secret reality TV plans". Culture Map Houston.
  28. ^ "iTunes Preview: The Don Vaughn Experiment". iTunes.
  29. ^ "Spotify: The Don Vaughn Experiment". Spotify.
  30. ^ "UCLA Art/Sci Center + Lab".
  31. ^ "Brainstorming: Synesthesia / Sonos Studios + Art/Sci Center".