Stephen Kosslyn

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Stephen Kosslyn
Born1948 (age 73–74)
EducationUniversity of California, Los Angeles (B.A., 1970)
Stanford University (Ph.D., 1974)
AwardsNAS Award for Initiatives in Research, Guggenheim fellowship, Cattell Award, Prix Jean-Louis Signoret
Scientific career
FieldsCognitive neuroscience, learning sciences, cognitive psychology
InstitutionsMinerva Schools at KGI, Stanford University, Harvard University

Stephen Michael Kosslyn (born 1948) is an American psychologist and neuroscientist. Kosslyn is best known for his work on visual cognition and the science of learning. Kosslyn currently serves as the president of Active Learning Sciences Inc., which helps institutions design active-learning based courses and educational programs. He is also the founder and chief academic officer of Foundry College, an online two-year college.[1]


Kosslyn attended graduate school at Stanford University and received a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford in 1974.[2] After an appointment as assistant professor of psychology at Johns Hopkins, he joined the faculty at Harvard in 1977, where he is currently listed as Professor Emeritus.[3] At Harvard, Kosslyn served as the departmental chair, Dean of Social Sciences, and the John Lindsley Professor. He also was co-director of the Mind of the Market Lab at Harvard Business School and was an associate in the department of neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2010 Kosslyn was appointed director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.[4] Kosslyn was then the Founding Dean and Chief Academic Officer of the Minerva Schools (now Minerva University).

Between 1998 and 2002, Kosslyn received $200,000 in donations from Jeffrey Epstein for his research.[5][6] A report from Harvard University shows Kosslyn had known Epstein for about nine years and supported his application as a visiting fellow in the department of psychology in September 2005.[5][7] The report concluded that Kosslyn did not disclose Epstein's donations in the accompanying documents. Epstein "lacked academic qualifications," but there was speculation that his application was approved with the support of Kosslyn as the head of the department.[5][8] The report also noted that disclosure was not requested and Harvard—having accepted the gifts—was previously aware of this funding. Epstein withdrew from his appointment in 2006 following his arrest for sex criminal offenses.[5]

Kosslyn has received numerous honors for his research. These include the National Academy of Sciences Initiatives in Research Award, the Prix Jean-Louis Signoret, three honorary doctorates (from the University of Caen, France; the University of Paris-Descartes, France; the University of Bern, Switzerland), a Guggenheim fellowship,[9] and a Cattell Award. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and Academia Rodinensis pro Remediatione (Switzerland).


Kosslyn has published over 350 scientific papers and written or co-authored 15 books and edited or co-edited 13 books, including:[10][11]

  • 1980. Image and Mind
  • 1983. Ghosts in the Mind's Machine
  • 1992. Wet Mind, with Olivier Koenig
  • 1994. Elements of Graph Design
  • 1994. Image and Brain
  • 2001. Psychology: The Brain, the Person, the World (2001, 2004), with R.S. Rosenberg
  • 2006. The Case for Mental Imagery, with W.L. Thompson and G. Ganis
  • 2006. Graph Design for the Eye and Mind
  • 2006. Cognitive Psychology: Mind and Brain with E.E. Smith
  • 2007. Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Compelling PowerPoint Presentations
  • 2010. Psychology in Context, with R.S. Rosenberg
  • 2010. Abnormal Psychology (2010, 2014), with R.S. Rosenberg
  • 2011. Better PowerPoint
  • 2013. Top Brain, Bottom Brain: Surprising Insights into How You Think, with G.W. Miller [12]
  • 2017. Building the Intentional University, edited with B. Nelson
  • 2019. Introducing Psychology: The Brain, the Person, the Group (5th edition), with R.S. Rosenberg
  • 2020. Active Learning Online: Five Principles that Make Online Courses Come Alive


  1. ^ Adams, Karen (2020-05-22). "Appointment of New CEO to Grow Active Learning Technology Business". Foundry College. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  2. ^ Gorlick, Adam (2010-07-27). "Kosslyn appointed director of Stanford's CASBS". Stanford University. Retrieved 2022-05-17.
  3. ^ "Stephen M Kosslyn". Retrieved 2022-05-17.
  4. ^ Gorlick, Adam (2010-07-27). "Kosslyn appointed director of Stanford's CASBS". Stanford University. Retrieved 2022-05-17.
  5. ^ a b c d Lopez, Diane E.; Gershengorn, Ara B.; Murphy, Martin F. (1 May 2020). "Report Concerning Jeffrey E. Epstein's Connections to Harvard University" (PDF). Harvard University. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  6. ^ Burke, Lilah (4 May 2020). "Harvard Reviews Connections to Epstein". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  7. ^ Svrluga, Susan (2 May 2020). "Epstein had office at Harvard University and visited after sex offender conviction, new report finds". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-05-25. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  8. ^ Levenson, Michael (1 May 2020). "Harvard Kept Ties With Jeffrey Epstein After '08 Conviction, Report Shows". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  9. ^ "Stephen M. Kosslyn". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  10. ^ Details of books published Archived December 23, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ List of publications Archived June 30, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ This book develops a new theory of "cognitive modes" -- different thinking styles that affect how each of us approaches the world and interacts with other people.

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