Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology; Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior; and Emily Slusser, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology, received a grant worth $25,000 from Mattel Philanthropy Programs. The grant was awarded on March 24.
The grant allows the group to explore children’s ability to learn from independent play with toys. Children will receive one of four kinds of toys for a period of two months, and their parents will be asked to bring the toys out daily. At the beginning and end of the study, children will participate in a series of brief measures, many of which have been developed or refined at Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Laboratory.
“Our goal is to find out if different kinds of toys, like dolls or blocks, have specific measurable benefits in distinct cognitive domains, like social or spatial reasoning,” Shusterman explains.
A Wesleyan undergraduate research assistant will help implement the study, and Slusser will be invited to present the results of the study at the Mattel/Fisher-Price Toy Labs.