Current Projects

How do children learn to count and represent numbers?

Children often learn to count before they understand what number words mean (e.g., that the word “six” refers to 6 items). It can take years for children to learn these meanings. One of the goals of the lab is to understand how children come to understand the meaning of number words. We hope this work will help paint a clearer picture of early mathematics development for parents and educators and help develop better interventions for children with developmental disorders.

What are the evolutionary precursors to number representations?

In this line of work, we seek to understand what aspects of number knowledge are evolutionary ancient and may be present in animals. Through studies similar to those run in children, we test the numerical abilities of non-human animals in order to gain an understanding of where our amazing human mathematics abilities come from.

What are the origins of grammar and complex sequencing?

Humans are the only animals that have language. Although other animals have communication systems, none of these systems have the type of grammar or complex sequences of words present in human language. In these studies, we hope to uncover how and why humans are the only animals who can develop complex language abilities. These studies often ask participants to order sequences of images in order to test our sequencing abilities outside of the language domain.

How do we learn logic and complex reasoning?

In order to understand the world around us, we use logic to help us reason through different situations. For example, if an item is in Cup A or Cup B, and you learn it is not in Cup A, you can infer that the object must be in Cup B. Young children sometimes struggle with problems like this. Here, we seek to understand the developmental and evolutionary origins of logic and reasoning abilities.