Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Core Developmental Faculty

Rebecca S. Bigler, Ph.D.

Dr. Bigler's research has three broad foci. One area of research concerns the cognitive and environmental factors that contribute to the formation of intergroup attitudes. A second area of research concerns the consequences of social stereotyping and prejudice for children’s cognitions and behavior. A third area concerns the mechanisms of social attitude change.

Profile | Children’s Research Laboratory

Amy Booth, Ph.D.

Dr. Booth's research program aims to explain why the development of  language and cognition varies so widely across children. In particular, she is interested in variability in early word learning, causal reasoning, and related motivational factors. She is also interested in the consequences of individual differences in these areas for subsequent reading success, scientific literacy and school readiness more broadly speaking. The ultimate goal of her research is to develop new approaches to early education and intervention that will optimize outcomes for all children, thereby helping to close persistent achievement gaps among our nations’ children.

Profile | Early Learning Lab

Jessica A. Church-Lang, Ph.D.

Dr. Church-Lang's research currently focuses on the development of cognitive skills such as task switching and reading in late childhood and early adolescence. She is interested in how these skills relate to the development of control networks in the brain. In particular, she is interested in the development of short-duration, rapidly-adjusting adaptive control brain networks, how they might be different in typical and atypical development, and how they interact over age with the rest of the brain. To address these questions, Dr. Church-Lang uses behavioral methods such as cognitive tests (where she measures reaction times, accuracy on tasks, or eye movements), neuropsychological assessments, neuroimaging (fMRI, resting-state fcMRI), and studies of patient populations (e.g., children with Tourette syndrome or dyslexia).

Profile | Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab

Catharine H. Echols, Ph.D.

Dr. Echols' research concerns the beginnings of language development. She is interested in the way in which prelinguistic biases may interact with the development of sensitivity to properties of the native language. More specifically, her research focuses on three interrelated questions concerning early language acquisition. A first question concerns how it is that infants recognize the sound patterns and words of their native language. A second question concerns the role of cognitive biases in the identification of word meaning by young children. Finally, a third and related component concerns the extent to which young children use syntactic cues to determine the meanings of words.

Profile | Language Development Lab

Judith H. Langlois, Ph.D.

Dr. Langlois' research is in the area of social and personality development, social information processing, and the development of social competence. She is particularly interested in the effects of individual characteristics (physical appearance, gender, age) on the differential socialization of males and females and on the development of social behavior. She has recently begun to study the origin of social stereotypes and the mechanisms underlying early social preferences.

Profile | Langlois Social Development Lab

Alison Preston, Ph.D.

The overarching goal of Dr. Preston's research is to understand how our brains support our memories. Our memories are the essence of who we are. The skills we have acquired, the knowledge we have amassed, and the personal experiences we have had define us as individuals. Our work focuses primarily on the brain systems that allow us to remember the individual events of our lives—termed episodic memory—with a particular emphasis on the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. We are interested in how this “memory circuit” develops from the time we are children and how development of this circuit promotes our ability to remember and reason about our experiences. To answer these questions, we use a number of techniques on the leading edge of human cognitive neuroscience, including high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), multivariate pattern information analyses, and model-based analysis of fMRI data.

ProfileThe Preston Lab

Jacqueline D. Woolley, Ph.D.

My research addresses two basic aspects of children's cognitive development: (1) their beliefs about the nature of reality, and (2) their understanding of mental states and processes. My studies of children's understanding of various realities and non-realities have probed children's ability to distinguish reality from appearance, and their understanding of the fantasy/reality distinction. My most recent work in this area addresses the development of beliefs about magical, fantastical, and religious concepts. Research I have conducted on children's understanding of mind addresses children's understanding of the mental nature and origin of beliefs, desires, dreams, imagination, and pretense, and their understanding of human behavior as a function of these mental states.

Profile | Imagination and Cognition Lab

David S. Yeager

Dr. Yeager's research concerns social cognitive development in adolescence and has three main foci.  In the first, he studies peer victimization and exclusion in adolescence, concentrating on what leads some adolescents to respond to conflicts with aggression, stress, or poor academic performance, while other adolescents are more resilient.  In the second, he studies the psychology of academic achievement, especially students facing academic adversity, with a concentration on students who may face negative stereotypes about their own ability or that of their group.  In the third, he studies research methodology, including (a) optimal questionnaire design; (b) survey sampling; (c) replicating and scaling psychological interventions that address important social problems.

Profile | Adolescent Development Research Group

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  • Department of Psychology

    The University of Texas at Austin
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