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Neil Cohn is a cognitive scientist and comics theorist. He is currently a professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego, and the director of the Visual Language Lab. He is best known for his work on the cognitive science of visual language, including comics, and for his book The Visual Language of Comics. Cohn was born in 1980 in the United States. He received his B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002, and his Ph.D. in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego in 2007. Cohn's research focuses on the cognitive science of visual language, including comics, and the use of visual language in communication. He has published numerous articles and books on the subject, including The Visual Language of Comics (2008), Visual Narratives: Image and Structure in Comics (2013), and The Visual Narrative Reader (2015). Cohn is also the founder and director of the Visual Language Lab at the University of California, San Diego, which focuses on the cognitive science of visual language. As of 2021, Neil Cohn's net worth is estimated to be around $1 million.

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Age 44 years old
Zodiac Sign Capricorn
Born 11 January, 1980
Birthday 11 January
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Nationality American

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Neil Cohn Net Worth

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Net Worth in 2023 $1 Million - $5 Million
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Cohn’s work argues that common cognitive capacities underlie the processing of various expressive domains, especially verbal and signed languages and what he calls “visual language”—the structure and cognition of drawings and visual narratives, particularly those found in comics. His theories have examined the linguistic status of emoji.

Cohn’s work challenges many of the existing conceptions of both language and drawing. He argues that language involves an interaction between an expressive modality, meaning, and a grammar. Just as sign languages differ from gestures in that they use a vocabulary and grammar, “visual languages” differ from individual drawings because they have a vocabulary of patterned graphic representations and a grammar constraining the coherence of sequential images. Full visual languages primarily appear alongside written languages in comics of the world, though they also appear outside of comics, such as in sand drawings used by Australian Aboriginals. Just as spoken languages differ, so do visual languages: Japanese manga are written in “Japanese Visual Language” while American comics are written in “American Visual Language.” In addition, Cohn has argued that the development of visual languages may follow similar constraints as learning spoken and signed languages, and that most people do not learn how to draw proficiently because they do not acquire visual vocabularies within a critical period.

Cohn's primary research program with visual language theory emphasizes that a narrative structure operates as a “grammar” to sequential images analogously to syntactic structure in sentences. While narrative grammar uses a discourse level of information, its function and structure is similar to syntax in that it organizes categorical roles in hierarchic constituents in order to express meaning. Cohn’s work in cognitive neuroscience has suggested that manipulation of this narrative grammar elicits similar brain responses as manipulations of syntax in language (i.e. N400, P600, and Left Anterior Negativity effects).

Cohn began working in the comic industry at age 14 by helping to run convention booths for Image Comics and Todd McFarlane Productions throughout his teenage years. Beyond illustrating his academic books, Cohn’s creative work appears in several graphic novels, like We the People: A Call to Take Back America (2004) with Thom Hartmann, and illustrations for academic works, including Ray Jackendoff’s A User’s Guide to Thought and Meaning (2012), and the comic strip “Chinese Room” with philosopher Daniel Dennett.


Cohn began developing his theories as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley where he graduated in 2002. He then spent several years as an independent scholar before studying under linguist Ray Jackendoff and psychologists Gina Kuperberg and Phillip Holcomb at Tufts University where he received his PhD in psychology in 2012. He then did a postdoctoral fellowship at UC San Diego working with Marta Kutas and Jeff Elman. In 2016, he joined the faculty of the Tilburg center for Cognition and Communication at Tilburg University. He is the son of Leigh Cohn and Lindsey Hall.


Neil Cohn (/k oʊ n / ; born 1980) is an American cognitive scientist and comics theorist. His research offers the first serious scientific study of the cognition of understanding comics, and uses an interdisciplinary approach combining aspects of theoretical and corpus linguistics with cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.