Dr. James C. Bartlett
Interim Dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Professor of cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychology
Ashbel Smith Professor
Dr. James C. Bartlett’s research explores the manner in which people perceive and remember complex things from everyday life, such as faces, visual scenes and melodies. He examines whether people see and remember individual components of an environment or whether they have a holistic view, remembering them as single units.
This work has added Bartlett to the ranks of the avant-garde researchers in several fields, including the reliability of eyewitness testimony in the elderly and the processing of non-verbal memory. He was one of the first people to provide solid behavioral evidence that the brain processes faces differently from other objects.
“I think way too often in science people research things because other people are researching them. However, it is not that hard to just open your eyes and say, ‘Here’s a problem someone should be working on, even though no one is,’” Bartlett said.
Bartlett is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Sciences and serves as the area and doctoral program head for cognition and neuroscience in the School of Behavioral and Brian Sciences. His commitment to mentorship in the sciences is evident in the 18 master’s and 13 doctoral theses he has supervised since 1977.
Bartlett received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1970, followed by a doctoral degree from Yale University in the same field in 1975.
He began teaching at the University of Texas at Dallas in 1975 and was promoted to full professor in 1990.
Bartlett was a pioneer in researching how people perceive and remember nonverbal information, including faces, melodies and visual scenes. He helped create the fields of holistic memory processing and was at the forefront of research on eyewitness testimony in older adults.
“I want my research to help people, but at the same time, I’ve always had an instinctive desire to discover things. I tell my students it’s like Christmas morning when they come in with new data from a completed experiment. I don’t know where that comes from, it’s just instinctive – it’s the kind of thing that brings me joy.”