4 Institutions Participate in Cognitive Development Research Conference

Wesleyan’s Psychology Department hosted the second annual Cognitive Development Undergraduate Research Conference on July 18. Faculty, research assistants and undergraduates from Wesleyan, Smith College, Wellesley College and Barnard College attended the conference to discuss their research. Seven labs from the four schools presented their work at the event.

“This conference is a great opportunity for faculty and students to discuss research, for the faculty to catch up on new work, and for students in this field to connect with each other,” says Shusterman, who organized the conference. Photos of the event are below:

Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology, spoke about the development of spatial navigation and about the Kindergarten Kickstart program, a summer pre-K she has developed in collaboration with Macdonough Elementary School in Middletown, Conn.

Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology, spoke about the development of spatial navigation and about the Kindergarten Kickstart program, a summer pre-K she has developed in collaboration with Macdonough Elementary School in Middletown, Conn.

Jennie Pyers, assistant professor of psychology at Wellesley College, studies language-specific effects on human cognition.

Jason Saltiel ’14 asks a question during the research talks. Saltiel works in Wesleyan’s Reasoning and Decision Making Lab and is learning how adults use information about probabilities to make decisions.

Koleen McCrink, assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College, specializes in infant cognition. She is head of the Barnard Cognitive Development Center.

Annemarie Kocab is the lab manager of the Acquisition and Development Research lab at Barnard. She graduated from Wellesley in 2010 and investigated language change within Nicaraguan Sign Language with Jennie Pyers. Pictured in the background is Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior. At the conference, Barth spoke about her lab’s work on children’s spatial and numerical thinking.

Simoneil Sarbh ’13 works in Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Lab on a project looking at the impact of language delays on children’s acquisition of number concepts. Her advisor is Anna Shusterman.

Jill De Villiers professor of psychology and philosophy at Smith College, explained how her lab is issuing developmental science to design a computerized language assessment for preschool-aged children. De Villiers studies how children acquire a first language in such a short time, especially considering that the grammars of human languages are very complex and abstract achievements.

Adam Watson ’14 and Ellen Lesser ’15 speak to fellow undergraduates about their research in Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Lab. Through Quantitative Analysis Center, Watson is adapting various computational models of estimation bias into a statistical software environment. Lesser is working on a series of studies in adults and children that investigates the relationship between the systematic estimation bias observed on number line tasks and the bias associated with non-numerical spatial tasks. Their advisor is Hilary Barth.

Josie Tejada, a student at Smith College, shows an example of a program her lab uses to test children’s cognitive learning.