A mind once stretched to a new idea never regains its original dimension. - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Group Photo

Research in the Language and Category Development Laboratory focuses on two broad questions central to the field of cognitive development. First, how do children use what they know to complete a task. Second, how does children’s knowledge change over time? We approach these questions from a dynamic systems perspective and use both empirical studies and formal models to understand how a child’s individual behaviors accumulate to create developmental change. Much of this work is done in the context of early word learning and categorization although we also have studies examining the development of selective attention, similarity, and the role of experience on perception. 

More information about the theoretical basis of our work can be found on the Research page.

Infomation for parents and others about specific studies can be found on the For Parents page. 


Highlights from the Society for Research in Child Development Conference (March 2015)


Honors student Daniel Plebanek answering questions about his project called The Role of Property-Property Mappings on Cognitive Flexibility.



Honors student Jordan Mattis explaining her poster on Examining Toddler Decision Making in Novel Noun Generalization.



Graduate student Megan Lorenz with her poster titled The Role of Spatial Consistency in Category Formation.



Professor John Spencer discussing his project called Integrating Visual Object Processing and Word Learning: A Computational Model of Cross-Situational Word Learning.

Mailing Address:
C/O Dr. Larissa Samuelson
E11 Seashore Hall
Iowa City, IA 52241

Phone: (319) 353-1977
Fax: (319) 335-0191
Email: larissa-samuelson@uiowa.edu

Building Address:
119 Spence Labs of Psychology

308 Iowa Ave
Corner of Gilbert St. & Iowa Avenue, Iowa City

Larissa Samuelson Personal Webpage


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