Primary investigator

Julian Jara-Ettinger (cv). I am an assistant professor of Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Computer Science at Yale University. I am broadly interested in characterizing how we think and learn to the level of precision that is necessary to implement it on a machine. To date, most of the lab's research focuses on Theory of Mind -our ability to make sense of other people's behavior by attributing unobservable mental states likes beliefs, desires and intentions. Check out our research page and our publications to learn more.

Lab manager

Madison Flowers. I am the lab manager for the Computation and Cognitive Development lab. I graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in Psychology and American Studies in May 2017. While my interests in developmental psychology are broad, I am very interested in the way that children think and learn to understand the people and world around them.

Graduate students

Rosie Aboody. Anyone who has been subject to a four-year- old’s seemingly endless stream of “but why?” questions can attest to the remarkably inquisitive nature of the human species. Even in infancy and early childhood, we want to know how the world works, what makes it tick – and we seem strikingly motivated to help other people attain the same insight. While the ability to teach the right information, and learn from the right people seems crucial, it’s important to note that we never have a direct line of sight into others’ minds. Instead, we have to infer what others know by observing their behavior. How do we use these indirect cues to decide who to learn from, or what to teach? My research integrates behavioral and computational methods to explore these questions.

Michael Lopez-Brau. People have the extraordinary ability to make vast inferences with little information. How do people learn to leverage these inferences as they navigate the social world? Can a machine be designed to learn how to leverage these inferences in the same manner? My research builds upon ideas from psychology and computer science, utilizing a blend of behavioral and computational methods, to answer these questions.

Reasearch Assistants

Amanda Royka. Despite the incredibly complexity of the social world, humans are able to effortlessly reason about the thoughts and intentions of others. My research in the Computation and Cognitive Development Lab focuses on how we make sense of goals and intentions when confronted with seemingly inefficient actions.

Annie Chen. I'm a junior studying computer science and education. I'm interested in how computer models can be used to understand what people know, and how that can be applied to help education.

Ece Bozkurt. I am a second-year undergraduate double majoring in Computer Science and Psychology, and Music. I am interested in helping uncover the inner workings of children's minds, and applying this knowledge to Artificial Intelligence.

Ivana Bozic. I am a first-year undergraduate intensely interested in child cognition. As an aspiring Cognitive Science major, I'm especially curious about the processes of language acquisition and belief acquisition in children.

Liam Elkind.I am a first-year undergraduate student interested in exploring people's subconscious biases and heuristics that impact our day-to-day lives without our effort or full understanding. I am currently assisting in the pursuit of the study of motion and its interpretation by everyday individuals. I am also interested in potential AI-focused development on the basis of these subconscious heuristics, with the ultimate goal of making a socially adept and learning machine.

Summer Interns 2018

Amanda O’Donnell. I am a junior at University of Rochester, majoring in Brain & Cognitive Sciences with minors in Computer Science and Psychology. I'm still narrowing down my research interests more precisely within cognitive development, but right now I'm particularly interested in learning mechanisms in children and how they may be applied to the field of artificial intelligence.

Breanna McBean. Breanna studies applied mathematics and computer science at California State University, Fullerton, where she is a part of the University Honors Program and the Graduate Access and Readiness in Mathematics (GRAM) Program. Her research interests include genetics and modeling dynamical systems, especially those in biology. After completing her undergraduate studies, she aims to pursue a Ph.D. in computational biology.

Caiqin Zhou. I am a junior at Wellesley College, majoring in Psychology and Economics. I am interested in studying how children reason about the world and gaining insight into the origins of commonsense knowledge and fundamental principles of learning. I am also curious to learn how our understanding of children’s cognitive processes can help us improve AI systems.

Gwyneth Heuser. I'm a Brain and Cognitive Sciences major at the University of Rochester with a minor in Linguistics! I'm interested in studying language development in children and psycholinguistics in general, and how computational models can help us study these things. When I'm not in the lab I enjoy creative writing, playing video games, and watching Netflix.

Lindsay Stoner. I just graduated Kenyon College this May with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Studio Art. I have worked as an RA at Tufts in the Avian Visual Cognition lab and at Kenyon working in a Gaming and Mediated Experience lab. I am very excited to intern this summer at the Computation and Cognitive Development Lab because and I am fascinated with the way children construct their worlds and develop their logic.

Sarah Wong. Sarah is a rising junior at Wellesley College studying Geosciences and Education Studies. She hopes to incorporate additional science education and exploration into early childhood classrooms, and is working towards teacher certification. In her free time, you can find Sarah at the dance studio, cooking at SCoop, or biking to the nearest body of water with her friend, Mel.

Lab Alumni

Camila Rivera Soto, Gemma Nicholson, Maria Maier, Victor Hunt