Here is a subset of past and ongoing projects that I am working on along with several collaborators in other labs.

Words and category learning during infancy

Infants learn categories and eventually learn words for those categories. While infants are still learning words, however, it is unclear what role labels play in forming new categories and concepts. Do words facilitate or hinder learning, and how? In this project, we are using a modified anticipatory eye movement (AEM) paradigm and network models to investigate these questions.

Category structure and selective attention

Recent research in our lab has suggested that unlike adults who optimize attention when learning categories, infants and young children distribute attention. However, not all categories are created equal, and some do not require selectively attending to learn them. In this project we use eye-tracking to investigate how children and adults attend when categorizing objects of different structures and complexity.

Abstract and Concrete Concepts

How do abstract concepts such as truth and justice differ from more concrete perceptual categories like cats and dogs? Do they, or does the brain treat and process these concepts in an equivalent way where abstract concepts just have different features? In this project we use Electroencephalography (EEG) and machine learning techniques to investigate what types of features are used to catgorize abstract versus perceptual categories, and possible differences in processing.

Executive functioning and category learning

Research in our lab has suggested that the development of selective attention may be a key mechanism underlying improvements in categorization ability. If so, then individual differences in executive functioning may account for differences in categorization performance. To test this, we have children learn a series of categories, then perform a battery of executive function and working memory tasks.

Modality dominance effects

Decades of research has found visual dominance over auditory dominance for adults in a simple detection tasks. The developmental literature has found opposite findings, where the auditory modality dominates. In this project we are investigating why modality dominance effects occur, and what changes over development.