Tag Archive for Barth

Cognitive Development Labs Receive Grant for ‘Living Laboratory’ Work at Connecticut Science Center

Research Assistant Anna Schwab ’16 and Lab Coordinator Lonnie Bass represented the Cognitive Development Labs at the Connecticut Science Center. 

Research Assistant Anna Schwab ’16 and Lab Coordinator Lonnie Bass represented the Cognitive Development Labs at the Connecticut Science Center.

A partnership between Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Labs and the Connecticut Science Center recently received a $3,000 Partner Stipend from the National Living Laboratory® Initiative, which receives support from the National Science Foundation. The Cognitive Development Labs received an additional $1,000 Educational Assistance stipend.

Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, oversees the Living Laboratory® site located at the Connecticut Science Center. Since 2013, researchers from Barth’s lab have been visiting the museum on Saturdays to collect data for current studies, speak with children and families about child developmental research, and guide visitors through hands-on activities that demonstrate important findings in developmental psychology.

The National Living Laboratory® Initiative Partner Stipend will support the ongoing collaboration between Barth’s lab and the Connecticut Science Center. It will support training sessions for Wesleyan students with museum educators, signage, and researcher travel expenses. The Educational Assistance stipend will support time spent by Wesleyan student researchers on Living Lab activities.

According to its website, The Living Laboratory® initiative aims to educate the public about child development by immersing museum visitors in the process of scientific discovery. In the Living Laboratory®’s educational model, scientists (in disciplines including developmental psychology, cognitive science, educational psychology, cognitive neuroscience, social psychology and related fields) recruit participants and conduct their studies within dynamic exhibits at a local museum. Families visiting the museum are invited to participate in on-going research projects and to engage in one-on-one conversations with the scientists.

Grant Supports Partnership between Cognitive Development Lab, CT Science Center

Cognitive Development Lab students Ziyue Li '16 and Portia Lundie '14 spoke with children and parents at the Connecticut Science Center last spring.

Cognitive Development Lab students Ziyue Li ’16 and Portia Lundie ’14 spoke with children and parents at the Connecticut Science Center last spring.

Faculty and student researchers from Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Lab recently received a $3,000 stipend from the National Living Laboratory® Initiative, which receives support from the National Science Foundation. The award will support an ongoing collaboration between Wesleyan and the the Connecticut Science Center.

Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, oversees a Living Laboratory® site at the science center’s museum. For the past year and a half, Wesleyan researchers have visited the museum on Saturdays to collect data for current studies, talk with children and their families about child developmental research, and guide visitors in hands-on activities that demonstrate important findings in developmental psychology.

The stipend will support staff at the museum, student coordination and museum visit time for the students, travel costs, signage and materials for the lab’s child development demonstrations. In 2013, the Living Laboratory Initiative awarded Wesleyan with a $300 grant for signage.

According to its website, The Living Laboratory® initiative aims to educate the public about child development by immersing museum visitors in the process of scientific discovery. In the Living Laboratory®’s educational model, scientists (in disciplines including developmental psychology, cognitive science, educational psychology, cognitive neuroscience, social psychology and related fields) recruit participants and conduct their studies within dynamic exhibits at a local museum. Families visiting the museum are invited to participate in on-going research projects and to engage in one-on-one conversations with the scientists.

Read past articles about the Cognitive Development Lab here.

Barth, Schug, MacDonald ’10 Published in Cognitive Development

Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior; Mariah Schug, visiting assistant professor of psychology; and Kyle MacDonald ’10 are the co-authors of “My people, right or wrong? Minimal group membership disrupts preschoolers’ selective trust,” published in Cognitive Development, Issue 28, pages 247-259 in 2013.

This publication is based on MacDonald’s undergraduate thesis, which he conducted in Barth’s lab. MacDonald is currently a graduate student in psychology at Stanford University.

Elizabeth Chase, Barth’s former lab coordinator, also co-authored the paper.

Read the paper online here.

Psychology Students Seek “Child Scientists” at Connecticut Science Museum

Wesleyan students involved with the Psychology Department's Cognitive Development Labs meet with local museum visitors at the Connecticut Science Center.

At left, Ellen Lesser ’15 and Jillian Roberts ’15 staff the Cognitive Development Labs’ exhibit at the Connecticut Science Center. The exhibit teaches museum visitors about psychology research—and research into child development, in particular—while allowing the Wesleyan researchers to collect data for their studies.

Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Labs are bringing their research on how young children think and learn to local museum visitors, thanks to a new partnership with the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford.

The partnership provides the public with a rare opportunity to learn about child development and psychological science—topics not often represented at science museums—at the Connecticut Science Center, while allowing the Wesleyan researchers access to a wide pool of subjects to include in their studies.

“It’s basically bringing the lab research out into the public, making the science accessible to kids and families, and also collecting data in the process,” explained Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior. She leads one of the Cognitive Development Labs, while Assistant Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman leads the other.

Jessica Taggart, lab coordinator at the Cognitive Development Labs, brought the idea for the Connecticut Science Center partnership to Barth and Shusterman. As an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, Taggart had been instrumental in setting up a partnership with the Maryland Science Center, which is one of the “hub sites” of the National Living Laboratory Initiative. The initiative, developed at the Museum of Science in Boston in 2005,

Barth, Slusser, Santiago ’12 Co-Author Paper on Developmental Change in Numerical Estimation

Together with two former members of her lab, Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, had a paper published in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Titled, “Developmental Change in Numerical Estimation,” the paper was also written by Emily Slusser, formerly a post-doctoral fellow in psychology and now a faculty member at San Jose State University, and Rachel Santiago ’12. The paper represents a challenge to a prominent theory of how children’s numerical thinking changes throughout the preschool years and into childhood.

The article is available to purchase here.

Barth’s Study Finds Mental Connections between Space and Time

Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior.

“We’ve moved the meeting/truck forward.”
“That was a long wait/ hotdog.”
“We’re rapidly approaching the deadline/guardrail.”

English speakers use a shared vocabulary to talk about space and time. And though it’s not something we’re necessarily conscious of, psychologists have found that the identical words we use to describe our wait in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles and the length of an especially impressive hotdog are not a fluke, but rather are telling of the cognitive processes involved in thinking about time. Past studies have shown that priming people with spatial information actually influences their perceptions of time. For example, people primed to imagine themselves moving through space will make different judgments about the temporal order of events than people primed to imagine objects moving through space toward themselves.

Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, is working to better understand the mental connections between space and time. She recently published an illuminating new study in the June 2012 issue of The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. According to Barth, it seems we use the more concrete world of space to think about the more abstract world of time.

Barth and co-author Jessica Sullivan ’08—formerly one of Barth’s student in the Cognitive Development Labs, now a graduate student at the University of California-San Diego—noticed that though past studies in this area attribute the effects on participants’ temporal judgments to the spatial qualities of the prime used, most of the primes involved both space and movement. For example, previous studies have used primes that involve a stick figure walking toward a plant or pulling on a wagon—scenes that use motor words like “run” and show actors engaging in self-powered motion.

Barth Published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Hilary Barth

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of “Active (not passive) spatial imagery primes temporal judgements.” Written along with Jessica Sullivan of the University of California-San Diego, the article was published in the June 2012 issue of The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

For this article, Barth and Sullivan looked deeper into the previously demonstrated cognitive connections between how we think about space and time. They found that only when people are asked to imagine actively moving themselves through space are their perceptions of time influenced. When participants in the experiment were primed with a similar scenario involving passive motion through space, the same influence was not seen on their temporal judgments.

The article can be read online here.

Psychology Department Hosts Undergraduate Research Conference

The Psychology Department's Cognitive Development Lab members hosted an undergraduate research conference June 29. Students from Wesleyan, Wellesley College and Barnard College attended. Pictured, from left, are research assistant Rebecca Lange '13 and Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology and co-director of the Cognitive Development Lab. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Barth’s Current Biology Article Explains How Our Visual System ‘Fills in the Gaps’

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, is the co-author of “Non-Bayesian Contour Synthesis” published in Volume 21, Issue 6 of Current Biology, March 2011. The authors studied how our visual system ‘fills in the gaps’ when looking at interrupted or partially obscured shapes.

The research is featured in a Dispatch article in Current Biology titled “Visual Perception: Bizarre Contours Go Against The Odds“.

The reports presents new motion displays that depict simple occlusion sequences. These displays elicit vivid percepts of illusory contours. Unlike most illusory contours, the contours in these displays are “unnecessary”: they don’t help us make sense of the information in the image. The new findings challenge common models that explain visual perception in terms of our brains ‘seeing’ the most optimal and probable thing.

Barth’s research is featured in a March 30 University of Sydney article titled “Irrational eyes: seeing curves that aren’t there.” Videos of the illusory contour displays are embedded in the article.

Mattel Supports Cognitive Development Study

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.

Barth Receives NSF Grant for Cognition Research

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, will be conducting a series of studies with children and adults in the Cognitive Development Laboratory at Wesleyan to investigate abstract and perceptual magnitude biases.

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, was recently awarded a five-year, $761,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study “magnitude biases in mathematical cognition, learning, and development.” Barth will be conducting a series of studies with children and adults in the Cognitive Development Laboratory at Wesleyan to investigate abstract and perceptual magnitude biases.

The grant, which begins this year, comes from the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program. The program is only available to non-tenured faculty. Barth’s colleague Anna Shusterman was awarded a CAREER grant in 2009.

“The psychology department is thrilled about Professor Barth’s accomplishment,” says Lisa Dierker, chair and professor of psychology.

Barth, Bhandari ’08, MA ’09 Co-Author Article on Children’s Social Cognition

Keera Bhandari ’08, MA ’09 and Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, are the authors of a new article on children’s social cognition. The article, based on Bhandari’s research project for her master’s degree in psychology, is titled “Show or tell: Testimony is sufficient to induce the curse of knowledge in three- and four-year-olds.” It will appear in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2009.