Noga Zaslavsky

Assistant Professor @ UCI

About me

I’m an Assistant Professor in the Language Science Department at UCI, where I’m founding the Interactive Cognitive Systems Lab (ICSL). Before joining UCI, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT, in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. I obtained my PhD under the advisorship of Naftali Tishby at the Center for Brain Sciences at the Hebrew University. I was also a visiting graduate student at UC Berkeley for two years, where I was affiliated with the LCLab, the Simons Institute, and ICSI. Before that, I was a research intern at IBM Project Debater. I hold a BSc in Computer Science and Cognitive Science from the Hebrew University.

My research aims to understand language, learning, and reasoning from first principles, building on ideas and methods from machine learning and information theory. I’m particularly interested in finding computational principles that explain how we use language to represent the environment; how this representation can be learned in humans and in artificial neural networks; how it interacts with other cognitive functions, such as perception, action, social reasoning, and decision making; and how it evolves over time and adapts to changing environments and social needs. I believe that such principles could advance our understanding of human and artificial cognition, as well as guide the development of artificial agents that can evolve on their own human-like communication systems without requiring huge amounts of human-generated training data.

I’m currently recruiting students and postdocs! Reach out if you’re interested in working with me and would like to join ICSL.

Selected Publications

All publications ≫

A Rate–Distortion view of human pragmatic reasoning

Zaslavsky, Hu, Levy. SCiL, 2021 / arXiv, 2020.

Efficient compression in color naming and its evolution

Zaslavsky, Kemp, Regier, Tishby. PNAS, 2018.
ELSC Prize for Outstanding Publication

Deep learning and the Information Bottleneck principle

Tishby and Zaslavsky. IEEE ITW, 2015.

Toward human-like object naming in artificial neural systems

Eisape, Levy, Tenenbaum, Zaslavsky. BAICS @ ICLR, 2020


Eghbal Hosseini, Noga Zaslavsky, Colton Casto, Evelina Fedorenko . Teasing apart the representational spaces of ANN language models to discover key axes of model-to-brain alignment. CCN, 2023.


Mora Maldonado, Noga Zaslavsky, Jennifer Culbertson . Evidence for a language-independent conceptual representation of pronominal referents. CogSci, 2023.

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Eghbal Hosseini, Martin Schrimpf, Yian Zhang, Samuel Bowman, Noga Zaslavsky, Evelina Fedorenko . Alignment of ANN Language Models with Humans After a Developmentally Realistic Amount of Training. COSYNE, 2023.


Mycal Tucker, Roger Levy, Julie Shah, Noga Zaslavsky . Generalization and Translatability in Emergent Communication via Informational Constraints. InfoCog @ NeurIPS, 2022.


Mycal Tucker, Julie Shah, Roger Levy, Noga Zaslavsky . Trading off Utility, Informativeness, and Complexity in Emergent Communication. NeurIPS, 2022.

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Anna A. Ivanova, Martin Schrimpf, Stefano Anzellotti, Noga Zaslavsky, Evelina Fedorenko, Leyla Isik . Beyond linear regression: mapping models in cognitive neuroscience should align with research goals. NBDT, 2022.


Mycal Tucker, Julie Shah, Roger Levy, Noga Zaslavsky . Towards Human-Agent Communication via the Information Bottleneck Principle. RSS Workshop on Social Intelligence in Humans and Robots, 2022.

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Irene Zhou, Jennifer Hu, Roger Levy, Noga Zaslavsky . Teasing apart models of pragmatics using optimal reference game design. CogSci, 2022.

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Alicia Chen, Matthias Hofer, Moshe Poliak, Roger Levy, Noga Zaslavsky . The emergence of discrete and systematic communication in a continuous signal-meaning space. CogSci, 2022.

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Noga Zaslavsky*, Karee Garvin*, Charles Kemp, Naftali Tishby, Terry Regier . The evolution of color naming reflects pressure for efficiency: Evidence from the recent past. Journal of Language Evolution, 2022.

PDF Code Dataset DOI Preprint


Language in the Mind and Brain (9.S52), Guest Lecturer

NeuroBridges Summer School, TA

Introduction to Information Processing and Learning, TA