Stephen Mitroff

Room 304
Address: 2125 G Street, NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
Phone: 202-994-6912


Dr. Mitroff studied Cognitive Science as an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, where he worked with Alison Gopnik. He then received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard, working with Dan Simons. After a 3-year postdoctoral position at Yale, researching both adult visual cognition (with Brian Scholl) and infant cognition (with Karen Wynn), Dr. Mitroff joined the faculty at Duke University in 2005. In 2015, Dr. Mitroff and his lab moved to the Department of Psychology at GW.

Current Research

The GW Visual Cognition Lab explores the nature of visual cognition—examining mechanisms of visual memory, perception, and attention. The lab has a current primary focus on individual differences to reveal how it is that some people can outperform others, how can we quickly identify the best performers, and how can we then train those individuals to make them even better. Using a variety of techniques (e.g., big data from smartphone apps, sports vision training tools) and a variety of participants groups (e.g., athletes, patients, radiologists, TSA officers), Dr. Mitroff and his lab explore a number of issues related to vision and attention. More information about the lab can be found at


Ph.D. 2002, Harvard University


Mitroff, S. R., Biggs, A. T., Adamo, S. H., Dowd, E. W., Winkle, J., & Clark, K. (2015). What can 1 billion trials tell us about visual search? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 41(1), 1-5. DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000012

Mitroff, S. R., & Biggs, A. T. (2014). The Ultra-Rare-Item effect: Visual search for exceedingly rare items is highly susceptible to error. Psychological Science, 25(1), 284-289. DOI: 10.1177/0956797613504221

Biggs, A. T., Cain, M. S., Clark, K., Darling, E. F., & Mitroff, S. R. (2013). Assessing visual search performance differences between Transportation Security Administration Officers and non-professional visual searchers. Visual Cognition, 21(3), 330-352. DOI: 10.1080/13506285.2013.790329

Cain, M. S., & Mitroff, S. R. (2013). Memory for found targets interferes with subsequent performance in multiple-target visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 39(5), 1398-1408. DOI: 10.1037/a0030726

Appelbaum, L. G., Schroeder, J. E., Cain, M. S., & Mitroff, S. R. (2011). Improved visual cognition through stroboscopic training. Frontiers in Psychology, 2:276. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00276

Cain, M. S., Dunsmoor, J. E., LaBar, K. S., & Mitroff, S. R. (2011). Anticipatory anxiety hinders detection of a second target in dual-target search. Psychological Science, 22, 866-871. DOI:10.1177/0956797611412393