Development of numerical cognition and math abilities

"I am developing an understanding that each child develops at their own pace and am confident that I will be able to apply knowledge from these studies when working with young patients in the future. These studies have increased my understanding of possible explanations behind the varying skill levels that each child has when it comes to different categories of tasks Also, simply interacting with the children who are participating allows me to continue my experience working with young children and doing my best to make them feel comfortable in an unfamiliar setting. "

Supervising Faculty: Dr. Melissa Libertus

Contact: Melissa Libertus,

Area of Research:  Developmental, Cognitive

Description of Research: What do infants understand about numbers before they learn to count? How does this early knowledge help children learn math? And what are the reasons for individual differences in infants’ and children’s understanding of numbers and math? We study numerical cognition and math abilities in infants as young as 6 months, toddlers, and preschoolers using behavioral methods, eye tracking, and neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG), event-related potentials (ERPs), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Duties of Students: Helping to recruit and schedule families, create and prepare stimuli, collect and code data, enter data into SPSS or Excel, and maintain paper and computer-based records. All research takes place in the Kids’ Thinking (KiT) Lab in the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) on the Pitt campus during weekday hours.

Additional Requirements:

  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 12 credits of Psychology (including current term)
  • STAT 0200/1000/1100 Statistics
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lecture
  • PSY 0037 Research Methods Lab
  • PSY 0310 recommended
  • Two-term commitment required
  • Must be able to obtain PA Act 33/34 clearance and FBI clearance
  • Comfortable with very young children and their parents
  • Willing to learn new skills
  • Able to work well both independently and as part of a team
  • Dependability, excellent organizational skills, and close attention to detail
  • To apply, send this application along with an unofficial copy of your transcript to Dr. Libertus.

Terms offered: fall, spring and summer

Number of Students: varies