Susan Carey


Susan Carey's Page
Phone: 617-495-3896
Fax: 617-384-7944


Nancy Soja

Lab Manager

Phone: 617-384-7918

Debbie Zaitchik-Samet

Debbie Zaitchik-Samet

Research Fellow

Many patients with Alzheimer’s disease – and even some healthy elderly – demonstrate conceptual errors that are characteristic of healthy preschool children (saying, for example, that the sun or the wind is alive). At Massachusetts General Hospital (Psychiatry/Gerontology), I investigate the mechanisms underlying these phenomena in adults, while running parallel studies with young children at Harvard. In both sets of studies, I focus on the effect of individual differences in Executive Function on the acquisition and loss of conceptual understanding.


Peggy Li

Research Fellow

My central research interest concerns elucidating the relationship between language and cognitive development - How does the emergence of various linguistic expressions in a child's language depend on the child's growing conceptual capacity? Conversely, in what ways does language acquisition itself make certain concepts more saliently available for problem solving? Furthermore, how might language play a role in the creation of new representational structures?

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Stephen Ferrigno


The goal of my research program is to understand the evolutionary developmental, and cultural origins of human thought. Young children and non-human animals share many of the same cognitive abilities. However, as children get older they begin to acquire skills far beyond the capability of non-human animals. I use developmental, comparative, and cross-cultural methods to investigate the primitive mechanisms, uniquely human factors, and cultural innovations that may support the development of our cognitive abilities. Currently, I am investigating the development of complex recursive sequencing and number acquisition in children.

Ivan Kroupin

Ivan Kroupin

Graduate Student

I am interested in how our assumptions about and expectations of our current context guide which representations and executive processes we bring to bear on engaging with the world. Specifically, I focus on how these expectations may develop across childhood and differ across cultures.
Integrating this kind of change with existing cognitive science literature, I take as case study-situations tasks used to assess various basic cognitive capacities (relational reasoning, use of linguistic concepts, executive functions). Thus my overarching question is how our basic cognitive capacities shaped - both in their internal structure and in the ways we tend to deploy them - by the expectations we have of the world.


Brian Leahy

Graduate Student

When do children correctly distinguish the possible from the impossible? Do children represent possibilities the same way adults do? How does their understanding of possibility relate to their understanding of probability? We must be sensitive to possibility and probability to navigate a world of uncertainty. My research uses psychological, philosophical, and linguistic methods to explore how these concepts develop.

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Yiqiao Wang

Graduate Student

My research interest is in the origin and early development of human mathematical knowledge. I'm interested in how young children acquire number concepts, how they learn the meanings of number words, and how natural language may foster the development of their number concepts.

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Evan Gould

Graduate Student (Extension School)

My research interest is the ontogenetic cognitive development of concepts of number. Humans are born with certain innate representational resources which, but for some limited number-relevant content, are inherently insufficient to fully represent natural number. And yet, after years of learning, children are eventually able to wield a culturally constructed external symbolic count list to reason about number in the abstract. Fundamental questions about the nature of this developmental trajectory remain. The goal of my research project is to make a contribution to our understanding of this process.


Jasmine Kenny

Research Assistant

I am currently a placement student studying Psychology at the University of Bath in England. I am spending the year as a research assistant in the Carey lab. My research interest is in understanding how children begin to understand of number concepts, the value of number words, the significance of ordering the count list and how these ability develop. I’m hoping to help construct a research project that will contribute to the understanding of how these processes work.