John Pani, PhD


Portrait of John Pani

Life Sciences Building, 358-A

(502) 852-3956

(502) 852-8904


Life Sciences Building, 358-A-E

(502) 852-4639

Visual Cognition Laboratory


  • BA: University of California, Berkeley
  • PhD: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harvard University

Research Interests

My research interests are in visualization and spatial understanding as they relate to learning and expert knowledge. With the special opportunities for visualization and learning provided by modern computation, my recent work has focused on developing ground breaking computer-based systems for learning. Current work is focused in two areas: 1) research and development of 3D computer-based learning of neuroanatomy; 2) in collaboration with the bioinformatics group here, my colleagues and I are evaluating methods for visualization of complex network data. Other recent projects have included experimental study of spatial reasoning (mostly concerning spatial transformations), and characterizing visual skill in the practice of microscopy in histology (the microanatomy of biological tissues).

Over recent years, the methods that we have used to explore cognition range from naturalistic studies of experienced practitioners (e.g., of microscopy) through tightly controlled experiments to the development of new computer graphical models and computer-based learning technologies.

The major source of funding for my work has been the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. I am also grateful for funding from the National Science Foundation / Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Louisville.

Recent Professional Service

  • National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Review panel for extramural funding (BLIRC), 2006 - 2010
  • Computer & Information Science & Engineering, National Science Foundation. Review panel for extramural funding (IIS), 2009, 2013
  • Program Committee, Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 2010 - 2014

Selected Recent Publications


  • Naaz, F., Chariker, J. H., & Pani, J. R. (2014). Computer-based learning: Graphical integration of whole and sectional neuroanatomy improves long-term retention. Cognition and Instruction, 32, 44-64.
  • Pani, J. R., Chariker, J. H., & Naaz, F., Roberts, J., Sephton, S. E. (in press). Introduction of computer-based learning of neuroanatomy into the undergraduate classroom. Advances in Health Sciences Education: Theory and Practice.
  • Pani, J. R., Chariker, J. H., & Naaz, F. (2013). Computer based learning of neuroanatomy: Interleaving whole and sectional representation. Anatomical Sciences Education, 6, 11-18.
  • Chariker, J. H., Naaz, F., & Pani, J. R. (2012). Item Difficulty in the Evaluation of Computer-Based Instruction: An Example from Neuroanatomy. Anatomical Sciences Education, 5, 63-75.
  • Chariker, J. H., Naaz, F., & Pani, J. R. (2011). Computer-based learning of neuroanatomy: A longitudinal study of learning, transfer, and retention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103, 19-31.
  • Pani, J. R. , Chariker, J. H., Claudio, N. M., & Fell, R. D. (2006). Visual search in microscopy implies high level cognition. In R. Sun, & Miyake (Eds.), Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1920-1925). Vancouver, B. C. Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Pani, J. R., Chariker, J. H., Dawson, T. E., & Johnson, N. (2005). Acquiring new spatial intuitions: Learning to reason about rotations. Cognitive Psychology, 51, 285-333.
  • Pani, J. R. , Chariker, J. H., & Fell, R. D. (2005). Visual cognition in microscopy. In B. G. Bara, L. Barsalou, & M. Bucciarelli (Eds.), Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1702-1707). Stresa, Italy: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Pani, J. R., & Chariker, J. H. (2004). The psychology of error in relation to medical practice. Journal of Surgical Oncology, 88, 130-142.


Courses Often Taught

  • Cognitive Psychology (graduate and undergraduate levels)
  • History and Systems of Psychology (graduate level)
  • Assorted Seminars (Computer-Based Learning, Cognitive Representation)