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Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
 

Lisa Feigenson

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A central focus of cognitive psychology is: What is the format of the mental representations that store information, and what computations can we perform over these representations?

Our research explores answers to these questions for the case of the concept "individual" (for example, representing the concept "object" is a specific case of representing an individual). This work both draws from and unites research in numerical cognition, object-based attention, and short-term memory. Our research centers on infants and young children and asks questions such as: Under what conditions do infants represent individual objects? How many objects can infants/adults represent at one time? What information can be bound to object representations, and what computations can be performed over these representations?

We approach these issues, which are of broad relevance to cognitive psychology, by studying infants and young children for two main reasons. First, infants' performance can inform us about the cognitive primitives that are available throughout the lifespan, and which may be evolutionarily basic. Second, studying children enables us to observe changes in representational vocabulary.

By examining key points in development we can gain insight into the role played by a set of representations as new knowledge is acquired, and as new knowledge structures are created.

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