The Cognitive Development Society conference is comprised of pre-conference workshops and an invited symposium on Thursday, March 21, followed by two days of conference proceedings. The conference will include two plenary speakers, invited symposia, contributed symposia and oral papers as well as poster sessions.

The below program is under development and may be subject to change.  

09:00 – 16:00: Pre-Conference Workshops (click here for schedule)

16:30 – 18:00: Early Career Symposium

Hear some of the latest research from invited early-career scholars!


Deon Benton, Vanderbilt University

Talk Title: How infants and children learn: A case for domain-general associative learning

Abstract: A longstanding debate in the field—which can be traced back to the early Western philosophers Aristotle and Plato—concerns the nature and origins of early knowledge. According to one perspective, infants are endowed with conceptually rich and abstract knowledge about the world that is rooted in rational processes and domain-specific learning mechanisms. According to another perspective, infants and children acquire knowledge about and build representations of the world via simple, albeit extremely powerful, domain-general learning mechanisms. This talk advances this second viewpoint. In particular, I will argue that the ability to learn and reason about causality as well as the capacity to evaluate others based on the morality of their social actions—two topics of intense and ongoing theoretical debate in the field—can be explained simply in terms of general advances in infants’ and children’s information processing abilities and the operation of different “types” of associative learning. I will draw upon behavioral experiments and computational modeling to make this case.

Annemarie Kocab, Johns Hopkins University

Talk Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

Julia Leonard, Yale University

Talk Title: How caregivers influence children’s persistence

Abstract: Every day children have to decide what is worth their effort: when to persist through challenges versus when to give up and move on to a different endeavor.  Simultaneously, parents have to navigate when and how to help children with these obstacles.  How do they make these decisions? And how can we help children persist when it matters most? In this talk, I present evidence that when 4-to-5-year-old children are faced with a challenging task, parents often “take over” and complete part or all of the task for them. I show evidence that this often well-intended act backfires, causing children to persist less. In a second set of studies, I demonstrate a possible intervention: Emphasizing children’s learning potential and lowering costs for parents (e.g., time, energy) causes parents to take over less, giving children more autonomy. In summary, I argue that to help children effectively allocate effort, it is critical to understand not only their minds but also the minds of the adults who raise them.

Dana Miller-Cotto, Kent State University

Talk Title: Understanding ethnic/racial differences in executive function performance: The case of the dimensional change card sorting task.

Abstract: Executive function remains one of the most investigated variables in both cognitive science and education given its high correlation with numerous academic outcomes. Differences appear in executive function skills between children from higher socioeconomic and lower socioeconomic homes and children from different racial/ethnic backgrounds, with children from under resourced and minoritized communities demonstrating poorer performance relative to their peers with more resources. However, many accounts associate these differences with poor home/community values, imply inherent deficits in children from these communities, and imply a need to target these communities through executive function training. In this talk, I outline commonly held beliefs about these differences and offer strengths-based counternarratives that might be explaining these differences. Using a strength-based approach, I will also offer next steps for the field, and end by providing an example where my colleagues and I tested measurement invariance for the Dimension Change Cart Sorting (DCCS) Task across three ethnic/racial groups: White, Black, Latine, and Asian, using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Kindergarten dataset.

Rebecca Peretz-Lange, State University of New York

Talk Title: Why does social essentialism sometimes promote, but other times mitigate, prejudice development?

Abstract: Before most children know how to tie their shoes, they already hold robust prejudices based on race, gender, weight, and more. How do these prejudices first form? One cognitive factor widely discussed as contributing to prejudice development is social essentialism: the intuitive view that social categories are natural and that category members share an underlying “essence” or biological reality. In this talk, I add nuance to this dominant view of essentialism as “the bad guy” in prejudice development: I discuss how, while essentialism can promote prejudice in some domains (e.g., race, gender), it can also mitigate prejudice in others (e.g., weight, sexual orientation). Finally, I argue that these seemingly-contradictory effects reflect the different alternative causal-explanatory theories that children discount in each domain. By incorporating these understudied forms of prejudice into our work, we not only broaden the social applicability of our findings, we also gain a better handle of the basic mechanisms underlying essentialism-prejudice relations.

Julie Schneider, Louisiana State University

Talk Title: Language Development in Context: Implications for the 30-million-word gap

Abstract: The 30-million-word gap, a term that refers to disparities in language input and vocabulary outcomes between children from low- and high-socioeconomic status (SES) households, is arguably one of the most highly cited research findings in the field of Cognitive Development. New studies have ignited a debate calling this purported word gap into question, drawing on two critical issues: 1) measures of vocabulary and language input utilized in past word-gap studies may be biased against children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) households and 2) the majority of the word-gap studies in this area have focused on families living in urban cities in the northeast United States and other major urban cities (e.g., Chicago, San Francisco, Miami), limiting their generalizability. In this talk, I will leverage data collected from a CLD sample of pre-school aged children in the Deep South in an effort to offer alternative suggestions for characterizing the language environments and vocabulary abilities of low SES children that may speak to their strengths rather than their weaknesses. I will go one step further by providing data from caregivers in this region related to their practices and beliefs surrounding child development as a means of finding ways to better support them in promoting their child’s language development.

18:00 – 19:00: Welcome Reception
Join us for appetizers and a cash bar to catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances!

19:00 – 22:00: Student Networking Night (Off-Site Venue TBC)
Open to all students and students at heart! Please note the legal drinking age is 21 in California and ID will be required.


08:00 – 08:45: Coffee and Registration

08:45 – 09:00: Opening Remarks

09:00 – 10:00: Plenary Address 1

Yuko Munakata, University of California Davis

10:00 – 10:30: Refreshment Break

10:30 – 12:00: Plenary Symposium 1: “Big Data” in Developmental Science


Anjali Adukia, University of Chicago

Talk Title: What we teach about race and gender

Abstract: Books shape how children learn about society and norms, in part through representation of different characters. We use computational tools to characterize representation in children’s books widely read in homes, classrooms, and libraries over the last century, and describe economic forces that may contribute to these patterns. We introduce new artificial intelligence methods for systematically converting images into data. We apply these tools, alongside text analysis methods, to measure skin color, race, gender, and age in the content of these books, documenting what has changed and what has endured over time. We find underrepresentation of Black and Latinx people in the most influential books, relative to their population shares, though representation of Black individuals increases over time. Females are also increasingly present but appear less often in text than in images, suggesting greater symbolic inclusion in pictures than substantive inclusion in stories. Characters in these influential books have lighter average skin color than in other books, even after conditioning on race, and children are depicted with lighter skin color than adults on average. We then present empirical analysis of related economic behavior to better understand the representation we find in these books. On the demand side, we show that people consume books that center their own identities, and that the types of children’s books purchased correlate with local political beliefs. On the supply side, we document higher prices for books that center non-dominant social identities and fewer copies of these books in libraries that serve predominantly White communities.

Elika Bergelson, Harvard University

Talk Title: Breadth vs. Depth: Different lenses on what ‘Big Data’ can (and can’t!) tell us

Abstract: The preceding decade has seen a sea change in approaches to data collection and interpretation within cognitive development, spurred by a growing realization that many of our efforts at uncovering mechanisms and general ‘truths’ about the human mind have been limited by our sampling approaches. In this talk I’ll focus on two facets of Big Data in developmental science: increasing the breadth of who we sample and increasing the amount and variety of data we collect from any one child, i.e. increasing depth. I will focus on language development to elucidate these topics. For the breadth portion I will pull from data on two recent large-scale collaborative projects (Bergelson et al, 2023; Bunce et al, minor revisions), that use automated and manual approaches to compute speech measures from daylong audio-recordings of children’s lives across a variety of socio-linguistic contexts. For the depth portion I will describe ongoing experimental work in my lab that uses a combination of within-child measures aimed at characterizing the underlying mechanisms supporting early word learning. Across these topics I will discuss the tradeoffs in using these approaches vs. others, and available resources these projects create. In concert with the other talks, I will aim to highlight potential areas of focus that will help move cognitive development theory forward with these complementary perspectives.

Caitlin Fausey, Universtiy of Oregon

 Talk Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

Joshua Hartshorne, Boston College

Talk Title: Cognitive development is (even) more complicated than we thought: Insights from Citizen Science

Abstract: The advent of citizen science-fueled massive online experiments has forced sharp revisions in our understanding of cognitive development. This is not so much because citizen science allows for additional types of measures (though it does) or that it is less susceptible to replicability issues (though it is), but mostly because it allows us to see much more of development in much more detail. The prototypical developmental study involves comparing two or three age groups, necessarily leaving much to the imagination (you can draw an infinite number of curves through two points). Moreover, these measurements are coarse, powered only to detect very large differences. Over the last two decades, researchers have used citizen science to conduct dozens of large-scale studies, charting learning and development in glorious fine-grained detail from early elementary through old age. These studies have upended many long-held assumptions: abilities believed to develop in tandem in fact dissociate; there is no clear distinction between fluid and crystalized intelligence; and learning and development in adolescence and adulthood is far richer and more complex than previously believed. I conclude by discussing some of the newly (re)opened theoretical questions, as well as current technological limitations to citizen science and what researchers are doing to address them.

12:00 – 13:15: Lunch on own or Diversity Lunch (pre-registration required)

The lunch workshop, “Promoting Diversity in Cognitive Developmental Science” features small-group discussions on a range of topics focused on the challenges and opportunities regarding diversity in cognitive developmental research. Attendees will have 40 minutes to discuss their table’s theme and then the full workshop will come together to hear representatives from each table report back on these discussions. The workshop organizers welcome ideas for table topics from registrants and will reach out after registration to solicit input and suggestions.

13:15 – 14:30: Poster Session 1 & Exhibitors

14:30 – 16:00: Parallel Sessions


Room 1: Symposium

2264      Diverse Approaches and Populations in Research on Early Attention Development

Sara Paredes Raquel, University of Houston

Room 2: Individual Orals

2018      Sources of Error in Numerical Estimation: Insights from the Wisdom of Crowds Effect

Hyekyung Park|John Opfer

2039      Quantitative Coding of Logical Relations Does Not Depend on Counting

Shuyuan Yu|John Opfer

2130      Children’s Notation Preferences for Fraction and Decimal Arithmetic

David Braithwaite|Qiushan Liu

2135      Spatial memory across axes, ages, and cultures

Benjamin Pitt|Alison Gopnik|Steven Piantadosi

2023      Hearing water temperature: Characterizing the development of nuanced perception of sound sources

Tanushree Agrawal|Adena Schachner

Room 3: Symposium

2149      The living, the non-living, and the once-living: children’s developing sense of natural phenomena across different cultures

Ayse Payir, Boston University

Room 4: Symposium

2168      An Understudied Outgroup: Children’s Cognitive and Behavioral Attitudes Towards Disabled Peers

Zoe Robertson, University of Virginia

Room 5: Individual Orals

2021      Individual Differences in Executive Functions for Preschoolers from Low-Income Backgrounds: Associations of Profiles with Pre-Academic Skills

Brianna Devlin|Elyssa Geer|Jennifer Finders|Tracy Zehner|Robert Duncan|David Purpura|Sara Schmitt

1992      Hearing the same story dos veces: Examining the structure of bilingual storybooks and their impact on novel word learning

Haley Vlach|Margarita Kaushanskaya

2161      Parenting Under Pressure: Unraveling the Effects of Economic Hardship during the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children’s Cognitive Development

Jenna Finch|Kimia Akhavein|Erika Boohar

1976      The development of picture comprehension across early environments: Evidence from urban and rural toddlers in Western Kenya

Rebecca Zhu|Tabitha Nduku|Jan Engelmann|Alison Gopnik

2139       Children’s language ecologies: understanding day-to-day variability in caregivers’ child-directed speech during the COVID-19 pandemic

Monica Ellwood-Lowe|Ruthe Foushee|Jonathan Wehry|Grace Horton|Mahesh Srinivasan

16:15 – 17:45: Parallel Sessions


Room 1: Symposium

2156      Diverse pathways to number knowledge

Sebastian Holt, University of California, San Diego

Room 2:  Symposium

2050      Investigating children’s understanding of counterfactuals and alternative possibilities

Hailey Pawsey, University of Waterloo

Room 3: Symposium

2177      Reasoning about social distance and affiliation across human development

Brandon Woo, Harvard University; Aaron Chuey, Stanford University

Room 4: Sympsium

2046      Biology, Social Environment, or Psychology? How Causal Explanations of Human Behavior Influence its Perceived Malleability.

Lea Combette, Boston University

Room 5: Individual Orals

2232      How does the form and content of parent language influence children’s developing gender beliefs?

Josie Benitez|Emily Foster-Hanson|Marjorie Rhodes

2273      A Conceptual Framework for Religious Identity: A Category’s Central Form and its Predictive Power in Hindu and Muslim Children in India

Paul Haward |Mahesh Srinivasan

2057      Stability and change in gender identity across childhood and adolescence

Benjamin deMayo|Kristina Olson|Natalie Gallagher

2184      Bilingualism and simultaneous identities

Sharanya Bashyam|Nadia Chernyak

2065      Why do children think follow we should follow norms? The case of religious and moral norms in India

Audun Dahl|Gil Diesendruck|Mahesh Srinivasan|Emily Chau|Paul Haward

17:45 – 19:00: Poster Session 2 & Exhibitors




08:00 – 08:30: Coffee and Registration

08:30 – 09:00: Announcements and Awards

09:00 – 10:00: Plenary Address 2

Megan Bang, Northwestern University

10:00 – 10:30: Refreshment Break

10:30 – 12:00: Plenary Symposium 2: Cultural Variations in Cognitive Development


Nicole Gardner-Neblett, University of Michigan

 Talk Title: Fictional oral storytelling among African American children: What’s nonverbal cognition got to do with it?

Abstract: Historical and cultural practices have made oral traditions highly esteemed and valued within many African American communities. Oral storytelling is one such tradition with important implications for the literacy development of African American children from as young as preschool age. Few studies, however, have examined individual differences in African American children’s oral narrative, or spoken storytelling, skills. Yet understanding the individual differences that contribute to oral narrative skills is critical for supporting the development of this foundational oral language ability. This talk presents research findings on individual differences in nonverbal cognitive processing as predictors of variation in African American children’s fictional oral stories. Results illustrate the heterogeneity among African American children in their oral storytelling and have implications for how clinicians, educators, and parents assist young African American children in developing these fundamental oral language competencies. 

Suzanne Gaskins, Northeastern Illinois University

Talk Title: Exploring the Meaning and Methods of Executive Function through a Cultural Lens

Abstract: Most established paradigms in Developmental Psychology are structured by generally accepted theoretical claims and standardized measures. When these commitments seem narrow or off-base to those of us who study children’s development in other cultures, there is often little disciplinary tolerance for new approaches. The project presented here investigated school-aged children’s executive function in a Yucatec Maya community in Mexico. Since ethnographic reports describe a remarkable amount of self-directed activities in children’s everyday lives, the initial expectation was that children would demonstrate high scores on standard EF tasks. However, for most experiments, their performance was quite poor. The project shifted to 1) understanding why they were not demonstrating their everyday skills during the experiments and 2) identifying what kind of alternative structured activities would elicit their skills. Insights into existing cultural assumptions about studying executive function will be presented, along with more general suggestions for maximizing cultural validity in both theory and methods to increase our understanding of developmental processes in all children.

Gigliana Melzi, New York University

Talk Title: Learning from Latine Families about Everyday Math

Abstract: Young children’s early math experiences are culturally situated, occurring in the context of everyday family interactions and routines. Yet we know little about the math experiences in culturally and linguistically minoritized families. Moreover, there has been relatively little attention to the cultural and linguistic relevance of the constructs and methods used in research on early math family interactions. As such, except for naturalistic studies, the contexts and activities used in past research tend to align with the interactional preferences of families from culturally and linguistically dominant groups. In this presentation, we present a project on Latine family math that examined caregivers’ definitions and uses of everyday math, as well as the math language input caregivers used during semi-structured interactions with their preschool-aged children. We discuss the cultural and linguistic considerations taken in designing the study, the main findings, as well as the lessons learned for future work on family math.

Andres Sebastian Bustamante, University of California Irvine

Talk Title: Centering Latine Families Funds of Knowledge in Early STEM Learning through Participatory Design

Abstract: There is increasing momentum in cognitive and developmental sciences to move away from deficit framing of minoritized families and center educational experiences in community assets and cultural funds of knowledge. One powerful mechanism for infusing cognitive science with minoritized communities’ cultural assets is participatory design, an approach to designing educational experiences that empowers community partners to contribute their cultural knowledge and expertise. This presentation will describe a research practice partnership with a community organization that serves Latine families to design Playful Learning Landscapes—early STEM learning installations for public spaces (parks, bus-stops, grocery stores, etc.). Through a showcase of the final designs, the audience will learn how principals from cognitive science were combined with families values, routines, and cultural assets to promote high-quality STEM conversations and interactions during everyday activities.

12:00 – 13:15: Lunch on own or Professoriate Lunch (pre-registration required)

The lunch workshop provides an opportunity to network with new and established scientists and ask them your burning questions about the field, the job market, research practices, obtaining funding, and related topics. We hope that you will take advantage of it! Each table will include 4-6 interested students/postdocs and two invited faculty members, grouped by professional topic of interest.

13:15 – 14:30: Poster Session 3 & Exhibitors

14:30 – 16:00: Parallel Sessions


Room 1: Symposium

2245      Functions, relations, and abstractions in infants, preschoolers, and AI

Nicole Coates, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Room 2: Symposium

2171      Shining new light on neural mechanisms of word learning

Aaron Buss, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Room 3: Symposium

2110      Structural reasoning about inequality across childhood and adolescence

Jamie Amemiya, Occidental College

Room 4: Symposium 

2111      Science and Me: How scientific thought and engagement is shaped by identity factors and diverse learning contexts.

Khushboo Patel, University of Louisville; Aarti Bodas, Boston University

Room 5: Individual Orals 

2227      Young children’s developing sensitivity to epistemic injustice – evidence from Hindu and Muslim children in India

Sophie Regan|Mahesh Srinivasan|Antonia Langenhoff|Jan Engelmann|Colin Jacobs

2191      A comprehensive investigation of U.S. children’s and adults’ understanding of social hierarchies

Vivian Liu|Andrei Cimpian|Kathryn Jano

2048      Should leaders conform? Developmental evidence from the United States and China

Yuchen Tian|Lin Bian

2216      The Role of Status-Related Beliefs in the Development of Competence and Warmth Stereotypes

Jillian Lauer|Nicole Alarcon|Rui Wang

2263      The Best Start Trial: Supporting Children’s Oral Language and Self-Regulation Skills Through Professional Development with Early Childhood Teachers

Elaine Reese|Sean Marshall|Tugce Bakir-Demir|Jesse Kokaua|Karen Salmon|Elizabeth Schaughency|Mele Taumoepeau|Amanda Clifford|Lou Moses

16:15 – 17:45: Parallel Sessions


Room 1: Symposium

2115      Cross-cultural and cross-linguistic trends in relational ability using the Relational Match-to-Sample task

Apoorva Shivaram, Northwestern University

Room 2: Individual Orals

2217     Children track their success over multiple trials, but are underconfident

Carolyn Baer|Arshnoor|Daniel Bernstein

2054      Making it meaningful: Story-making practice to improve working memory in first-graders

Luísa Superbia-Guimarães|Nelson Cowan |Reese Laver

2100      The relationship between disfluency and confidence in young children

Eloise West|Carolyn Baer|Darko Odic

2219      Spontaneous relational attention serves as a mechanism between Executive Functions and math learning outcomes

Hongyang Zhao|Lindsey Engle Richland

2069      Intellectually humble tendencies are considered desirable by children and adults, even in intergroup contexts

Joshua Rottman|Nithya Ramaswamy|Zoe Favilla|Caitlin Geller|Nina Kegelman|Raluca Rilla|Skylynn Coble|Mary Fouad|Jonathan Lane|S. Emlen Metz|Paul L. Harris|Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Room 3: Symposium

2167      Money talks, and children listen: Investigations into how developing minds think and talk about wealth, social status, and money

Richard Ahl, Boston College

Room 4: Symposium

2226      Unlocking Potential: New Insights into Motivational Factors Shaping Children’s Achievement Behaviors

Fan Yang, University of Chicago; Melis Muradoglu, Stanford University

Room 5: Individual Orals 

2077      Neural sensitivity to mental states in infancy predicts later explicit theory of mind reasoning in childhood

Yiyu Liu|Eden Moss|Fransisca Ting|Daniel Hyde

1984      The development of socially mindful behaviors in early childhood

Xin (Alice) Zhao|Zijia Li

2262      Epistemic and Deontic Constraints on U.S. and Chinese Children’s Possibility Judgments

Jenny Nissel|Jacqueline Woolley|Jennifer Clegg|Hui Li|Lihanjing Wu

2157      How do child learners shape language: a silent gesture study with 6-year-olds
Molly Flaherty

17:45 – 19:00: Poster Session 4 & Exhibitors



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