Projects Our Lab Explores

What information do infants pay attention to?

There are so many different ways we can quantify the world around us. For example, when given a plate of cookies, we can keep track of the number of cookies on the plate, the total surface area or volume of food in front of us, or how long the cookies have been sitting on the plate. In the Infant and Child Cognition Lab, we are interested in determining which quantitative information is important to babies, if they are more likely to pay attention to one type of quantity over another, and if there are circumstances that make an infant more likely to attend to number over other quantities.

How do children and adults think about rational numbers?

How do children decide that 1/2 is smaller than 3/4? Do children and adults approach this question differently if the numbers are in decimal notation: 0.5 vs. 0.75? Using behavioraltasks and eye-tracking techniques, we are investigating how children think about the magnitudes values associated with decimal and fractional notation, as well as the relationship between this magnitude understanding and Algebra or pre-Algebra understanding.

Is it possible to enhance early discrimination abilities?

It is thought that infant quantitative abilities may be a precursor to later verbal counting abilities and mathematics achievements. Thus, it is important to understand exactly how infants represent quantity and the factors that influence these representations. We are currently investigating a number of strategies to enhance quantity discrimination in infancy, and examining the effects of these interventions on later verbal abilities.

How do children's developing sense of number relate to their prosocial abilities?

One of the most important human achievements is our ability to be generous to others. We know that many sub-components of generosity (sharing, cooperation, prosocial behavior, empathy) develop rapidly during the period of early chidhood, at the same time that children are learning to count. Through a recent grant funded by the John Templeton Foundation, we are investigating the intersection of prosocial development and numerical abilities in young children. To learn more about this research, please visit Count on Sharing .