Deepthi Kamawar (Principal Investigator), Ph.D.

Research Interests: My research interests are in the area of children’s cognitive development and their ability to deal with representations. My research has focused on children’s ability understand that people’s minds represent the world in particular ways (which may or may not be correct), and it is on the basis of these representations that we predict or explain behaviour ( known as Theory of Mind). For example, people look for things where they represent them to be (i.e., think they are), not necessarily where the things are. My research has also focused on the constraints that are placed on descriptions of people’s beliefs and thoughts on the basis of their representations (opaque contexts). I am also interested in the developmental aspects of a variety of representation types (e.g., mental representation, the representation of language and the representation of number). Finally, my research also focuses on other topics such as children’s developing notion of ‘intention’ (purposeful behaviour) and its expression in language.

Andrea Astle – Ph.D. student, Psychology

My research focuses on preschool children’s understanding of representations.  Recently, I have been investigating cognitive skills that facilitate children’s understanding of how something stands for something else (e.g., how a wavy blue line on a map can represent a river).  My research provides information about what aspects of representations cause difficulties for children who lack understanding, and will hopefully direct future research which will aim to establish methods for assisting for those children.

Gal Podjarny – Ph.D. student, Psychology

GalBetween their 3rd and 6th birthdays, preschoolers experience an incredible growth of their cognitive abilities. One of the skills that improves dramatically over this timeframe is children’s ability to think about something in more than one way, a skill called cognitive flexibility. So, 3-year-olds, for example, have a hard time thinking about a blue rabbit both as a “rabbit” and as a “blue one”; 5-year-olds, on the other hand, mostly have no problems with this kind of task. Cognitive flexibility skills are related to flexible problem-solving, creativity, and academic achievements. My research focuses on understanding the development of cognitive flexibility, and on factors that affect preschoolers’ performance on tasks that measure this skill. In addition, I’m interested in making developmental science accessible for parents and caregivers, which I do on my personal blog, which you can find at: 

Corrie Vendetti – Ph.D. student, Psychology

corrieCorrie successfully defended her dissertation in January, 2015, though she continues to be involved with the lab. Corrie’s dissertation research focused on preschoolers’ understanding and telling of different kinds of lies and truths, and how Theory of Mind and Executive Function contribute to these abilities. You can read more about her studies here: Grad Research: When and Why Children Lie. More broadly, Corrie is interested in the developmental relations between preschoolers’ moral development, Theory of Mind understanding and Executive Function.

Dissertation Title: Lies, Damned Lies and Preschoolers: The Roles of Theory of Mind and Executive Function in Children’s Conceptual Understanding and Telling of Self-Serving and Prosocial Lies.

Katherine Andrews – Master’s Student, Psychology

KatherineI’m interested in preschool children’s moral development. Specifically, my research is focused on exploring young children’s developing ability to take into account people’s intentions when making moral evaluations.  For my Masters research I’m examining when children begin to do this and what factors contribute to this ability. Additionally, I’m interested in how children’s understanding that other people can have thoughts and beliefs that differ from their own, or from reality (known as Theory of Mind) contributes to their ability to take into account people’s intentions when making moral judgments of others.

Alicia Bartlett – Master’s Student, Psychology

AliciaMy research interests relate to the early cognitive development of Theory of Mind, namely the ability to recognize that others’ thoughts and beliefs differ from one’s own. Specifically, I am interested in learning more about the cognitive mechanisms underlying this developmental milestone, as well as the social factors (e.g., sibling relationships) which significantly affect its trajectory.