My research examines cognitive development situated in everyday experience.

Young children’s use of new technologies

We study children’s use of interactive technologies to see how it affects communication, learning, and development. For example, in a project currently funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF 1617253), we collaborate with computer engineers and interactive-system designers to study how interactive technologies facilitate cleft speech therapy. The research project focuses on (a) children's development of language and communication skills and (b) the role of individual differences in the interplay of technology and learning.

The role of action experience in learning

Visual and action experiences are crucial for learning. This project explores the process by which young children learn about regularities and rules. Can babies extract a physical rule after watching just a few examples? Do action experience and visual observation affect early learning in the same way? Different cultural communities may vary in the kind of action experience provided to their young children. Might we observe cultural differences (or similarities) in the learning process?

Our lab is part of the launch group of the nation-wide collaborative project, Play and Learning Across a Year (PLAY). The goal of the PLAY project is to establish a model system for a synergistic approach to developmental science that enables a communal means of collecting and coding naturalistic data.

Theory of mind

Psychological knowledge constitutes an important domain of human cognition; this project explores early understanding about people. How do young children interpret others' actions? Do they impute in others preference, desire, or belief? Current projects focus on infants' use of communicative cues (such as facial expressions and linguistic input) to interpret others' actions.

We recently presented a set of findings from this line of research at the International Conference on Infant Studies ("Once helpful, always helpful"). Another presentation is coming up at the biennial meeting of the Society of Research in Child Development.

Attention, memory, and representation

This project explores the process by which young children direct their attention to relevant information and make use of it. How do children keep track of objects and events around them when facing an enormous amount of information? What might help children direct their attention more efficiently?

Selected Publications

Wang, S. (in press). The fluid construction of spatial concepts in infancy. Human Development.

Wang, S., & Onishi, K. H. (2017). Enhancing young infants’ representations of physical events through improved retrieval (not encoding) of information. Journal of Cognition & Development.

Antrilli, N. K., & Wang, S. (2016). Visual cues generated during action facilitate 14-month-old infants’ mental rotation. Journal of Cognition & Development, 17, 418-429.

Wang, S., & Goldman, E. J. (2016). Infants actively construct and update their representations of physical events: Evidence from change detection by 12-month-olds. Child Development Research, 2016, 1-11.

Wang, S., Zhang, Y., & Baillargeon, R. (2016). Young infants view physically possible support events as unexpected: New evidence for rule learning. Cognition, 157, 100-105.

Rigney, J., & Wang, S. (2015). Delineating the boundaries of infants’ spatial categories: The case of containment. Journal of Cognition and Development, 16, 420-441.

Duh, S., & Wang, S. (2014). Infants detect changes in everyday scenes: The role of scene gist. Cognitive Psychology, 72, 142-161. PDF