Lisa Feigenson

Lisa Feigenson (She/ her/ hers)

Chair and Professor

Contact Information

Research Interests: Cognitive development, numerical cognition

Education: PhD, New York University

Lisa Feigenson is co-director of the Johns Hopkins University Laboratory for Child Development. Her research seeks to understand the cognitive primitives that are available throughout the lifespan, as well as changes in children’s thinking with maturation and experience. She uses primarily behavioral methods to study cognitive abilities in infants, children, and adults.

Current research in Feigenson’s lab investigates the development of numerical abilities—asking what factors determine children’s successes (or struggles) with mathematical thinking, the development of working memory—asking what can be remembered and what is forgotten throughout early development, and the nature of early learning—asking how expectations and surprise shape when and what we learn.

Feigenson is the recipient of the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences, the Boyd McCandless Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association, and a Scholar Award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation. Her work has appeared in Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Psych 200.132: Introduction to Developmental Psychology
Course Aims:

  • To learn the central questions driving the field of developmental psychology, and to learn how to evaluate the types of answers offered to these questions
  • To become versed in the various ways in which theories of development can be empirically tested
  • To study the process of change as humans progress from zygotes to adolescents and beyond
  • To gain exposure to the primary sources used by professionals in the field of developmental psychology
  • To provide a scientific basis for making decisions you may face as a parent, teacher, social policy-maker, or voter

Psych 200.206: Foundations of Mind
Team-taught in the Spring with Prof. Justin Halberda

  • This course is an interdisciplinary investigation into the origin of concepts.
  • Knowledge from the domains of depth perception, objects, number, space, language, and morality are discussed.
  • Students become familiar with primary material from developmental and comparative psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and cognitive neuroscience.
  • In addition to attending lecture, students meet weekly in small sections to collect and discuss data which bear on the claims raised in the readings.

Recent and Representative Publications:

(For more complete listing see:

Wang, J. , Libertus, M.E., & Feigenson, L., (2018).  Hysteresis-induced changes in preverbal infants’ approximate number precision.  Cognitive Development, 47, 107-116.

Kanjlia, S., Lane, C., Feigenson, L., & Bedny, M. (2018).  Numerical cognition is resilient to dramatic changes in early sensory experience. Cognition, 179, 111-120.

Stahl, A.E. & Feigenson, L. (2018).  Infants use linguistic group distinctions to chunk items in memory.  Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 172, 149-167.

Stahl, A.E.  & Feigenson, L. (2017).  Expectancy violations promote learning in young children. Cognition, 163, 1-14.

Kibbe, M.M.  & Feigenson, L. (2017).  Children spontaneously “solve for x” using approximate number representations but not individual object representations.  Cognition, 160, 82-90.

Rosenberg, R.D.  & Feigenson, L. (2013).  Infants hierarchically organize memory representations.  Developmental Science, 16(4), 610-621.

Feigenson, L. & Halberda, J. (2008).  Conceptual knowledge increases infants’ memory capacity.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105 (29), 9926-9930.

Halberda, J., Mazzocco, M., & Feigenson, L. (2008).  Individual differences in nonverbal estimation ability predict maths achievement.  Nature, 455, 665-669.