Research


How does developmental experience affect the human mind and brain? What is the role of experience in structuring higher-level cognitive representations?


To gain insight into these question, I study the effects of developmental visual experience on cognition.


I use three primary approaches in my research:


  1. 1)Comparison of populations with different developmental experiences - I compare the minds and brains of sighted, congenitally blind and late-blind adults. This approach allows me to look at effects of visual experience during development on the state of the brain and mind in adulthood. I am particularly interested in how higher-level cognitive representations such as those of language and social cognition are shaped by visual experience.


  1. 2)I examine brain development directly, by studying blind and sighted children. How does early experience shape the developmental processes of brain maturation and specialization? What is the time-course of brain plasticity during development? How does experience affect the process of functional specialization in higher-cognitive and perceptual systems?


  1. 3)I look for similarities and differences in the neural implementation of conceptual representations and visual representations. For example, we learn some of our first action verbs partly through vision. Does seeing the motion of “bouncing” and understanding the verb “bounce” engage the same neural systems?