Elizabeth Spelke is the Marshall L. Berkman Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and an investigator at the NSF-MIT Center for Brains, Minds and Machines. Her laboratory focuses on the sources of uniquely human cognitive capacities, including capacities for formal mathematics, for constructing and using symbols, and for developing comprehensive taxonomies of objects. She probes the sources of these capacities primarily through behavioral research on human infants and preschool children, focusing on the origins and development of their understanding of objects, actions, people, places, number, and geometry. In collaboration with computational cognitive scientists, she aims to test computational models of infants’ cognitive capacities. In collaboration with economists, she has begun to take her research from the laboratory to the field, where randomized controlled experiments can serve to evaluate interventions, guided by research in cognitive science, that seek to enhance young children’s learning.
Professor, Department of Psychology