Team LDM

Top Row From Left: Aditya Vasavan, Ethan James Ludwin-Peery, Nicole Loncar. Middle Row: Ofelia Garcia, Anais Kessler, Simran Suresh, Divya Dayal. Bottom Row: Olivia Miller, Dr. Moira Dillon, Sara Okun. 

principal investigator



How does the physical world in which we live shape the abstract world in which we think? I address this question by exploring the development of uniquely human geometric understanding — from the basic spatial sensitivities of infants to the high-level spatial concepts of adults. I also broaden and deepen this exploration to ask how mathematical formalisms might have been ignited in the first geometers like Euclid and how they might be reignited in the minds of our children, those future mathematicians we send to school every day. In addition, I ask how our basic mechanisms of spatial perception and cognition might have even shaped our cultural development throughout historical time, such as the production of pictorial art, by investigating the geometry in children’s drawings.


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I am interested in the relationship between our experiences in the physical world and the representation of abstract concepts in our brains. How do we arrive at these abstract concepts? What allows us to learn concepts that have been created by others? I began asking myself these questions while studying the relationship between language and thought at Mount Holyoke College, where I received my B.A. in Psychology and Spanish.

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I am fascinated by how the human mind represents and reasons about our interactions within physical spaces. As a side interest, I'm also fascinated by the developmental differences the human mind and artificial intelligence models. My previous research at the Harvard Lab for Developmental Studies explored causal perception and inferences and at the MIT Early Childhood Cognition Lab focused on the acquisition of knowledge, energy efficiency, and pragmatics through theory of mind. I received my B.A. from St. John's College.

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I received my B.A. in Psychology from Princeton University.  My research in the Baby Lab at Princeton focused on how children use input from the environment to learn words and represent categories.  I am interested in understanding how children navigate the world and approach emerging challenges in their lives, whether a mathematical problem or an otherwise stressful situation, in order to improve learning and clinical outcomes of children. Outside of the lab, I can be found playing soccer on any spare patch of grass I can find or trying out new recipes (and subsequently washing a lot of dishes).

graduate students



I received my B.S. in Psychology from Tufts University, where my research focused on how social information affects adult's judgments about space. I then taught first grade in the South Bronx, during which my research interests began to evolve. I am interested in how children perceive the world around them and how non-spatial cues affect spatial cognition. The way we communicate about space may lead to different interpretations of the very same space. For example, might children's drawings of a space change when the recipient of the picture is a parent instead of a researcher? What spatial details might children include when drawing a map instead of a picture? How do spatial intuitions develop before formal schooling? I also strive to create a stronger connection between developmental research and educational practice.


Somehow, people are able to symbolically represent and reason about a huge variety of topics. Despite some common and consistent errors, it appears that with practice we can think about just about anything. Does this ability come from a single, very general ability to represent different topics, or is it constructed from the combination of specialized representation abilities? And does every domain depend on the same ability to reason — or have we developed different sets of rules for reasoning in different domains? However these are organized, how do we develop such a complex network of representations?


I'm currently studying psychology as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and previously studied math and physics in McMaster University's ultra-interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences program. Teaching math is a delicate balancing act: we need to ground abstract theorems in familiar ideas, and explain esoteric concepts with intuitive examples. But what are mathematical intuitions, anyway? What makes some problems so simple, while other cause mental road-blocks? I began exploring these questions in the lab during the summer of 2017, and continue to work on various projects while in Oxford.



I am a senior majoring in Psychology at New York University. I am interested in how children learn problem-solving skills from such a young age and the ways in which they utilize these skills in everyday interactions. It fascinates me how a child's early experiences shape the way that they approach situations. In my free time, I enjoy singing classical music, running, and going to the beach.

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I am a junior in NYU, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Chinese and potentially Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. I’m interested in Clinical Psychology, especially in concern with developing children and adolescents. Outside the lab, I am a part of the NYU Women’s Choir and enjoy doing puzzles.





I received my B.S. in Psychology from Saint Peter's University. My research interests include how abstract concepts and thinking can be understood by humans. How does abstract thinking affect how children understand language and interact with the physical world? In addition, how does the brain comprehend mathematical concepts which cannot be visualized and how does mathematical thinking develop? When I am not in the lab, you'll find me at kickboxing classes and making recipes at home.



I am currently pursuing a Master's degree in Clinical Social Work at New York University. I received my B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Computer Science from Boston University. I am interested in the development of skills related to abstract thinking and problem-solving, particularly how children's perception of and interaction with the environment shape their intuition and learning. When I'm not in the lab, you can find me at a library or coffee shop.




I am senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Policy and Management at NYU. I am interested in how people are able to turn something in the physical world into something abstract and the way our minds are shaped. Outside the lab, you'll find me reading a book or listening to music!



I am a senior studying Psychology as well as Child & Adolescent Mental Health at NYU. There is so much we don’t know about the psychology of children and young adults, I am fascinated by all there is to learn about the way our minds are shaped. Outside of the lab, you’ll often find me at an art exhibit or breaking a sweat!

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I am a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Computer Science. I am fascinated by how our experiences throughout our development contribute to our thought processes and our perception of the world. Outside the lab, I can be found taking pictures around the city!



I received my B.A. in Psychology from New York University. My previous research at NYU includes neurocognitive research at the Child Study Center and social psychology research at the West Interpersonal Perception Lab. I am interested in examining neural and behavioral correlates related to brain development and learning, specifically through the application of quantitative cognition techniques. Outside of the lab, I love playing with my dogs and baking.

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I am studying Psychology and Neuroscience at New York University, and I'm deeply interested in Child and Adolescent psychology. I hope to understand the complexity and efficiency with which children are able to make connections. My hobbies include playing tennis, swimming, and reading.

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I am a junior majoring in applied psychology and computer science at NYU. I always enjoy working with children, and I care a lot about the mental health of child and adolescents. I am interested in how children develop abstract thinking and social-emotional learning and how early experience shapes such skills and abilities and the developmental implications. Outside the lab, I am a member of Alpha Phi Omega Co-ed fraternity and dance group Asian Fusion Dance. You can find me either volunteering in various organizations or practicing dance.


I am a junior from NYU Shanghai, studying away in New York.  I am majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art History. I am interested in child psychology (especially attention), social development, and how surroundings affects the development of thinking. Outside the lab, you can find me in art galleries and walking around New York!


Divya Dayal (2017-2018) - Honors Thesis Student

Maggie McAlister (2018) - Research Assistant

Anais Kessler (2017-2018) - Research Assistant

Gia Squitieri (2018) - Summer Research Assistant


Post-Doctoral Associate

The Lab for the Developing Mind (PI: Moira Dillon) in the Department of Psychology at NYU is seeking a full-time Post-doctoral associate to begin in the summer of 2019. Areas of investigation in the lab include mathematical cognition, spatial cognition, early emerging knowledge domains, symbolic and abstract thought and reasoning, and pictorial and mental imagery. The lab uses behavioral and computational methods and tests participants ranging from infants through adults.

Interested applicants must apply through the Interfolio link ( Please submit a cover letter, CV, representative first-author publication, and contact information for three references. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Lab Manager/Research Assistant

The Lab for the Developing Mind (PI: Moira Dillon) in the Department of Psychology at NYU is seeking a full-time Lab Manager/Research Assistant with a start date between April 15, 2019-June 15, 2019. Areas of investigation in the lab include mathematical cognition, spatial cognition, early emerging knowledge domains, symbolic and abstract thought and reasoning, and pictorial and mental imagery.  The lab uses behavioral and computational methods and tests participants ranging from infants through adults.

Responsibilities for the position include experimental design and stimuli development, running behavioral experiments with infants, children, and adults (in the lab, in museums, and/or online), participant recruitment, management and analysis of data, and lab administration (e.g., managing IRB protocols and training other lab members).

Qualifications include a Bachelor's degree in Cognitive Science, Psychology, Neuroscience, or a related field as well as excellent organizational and interpersonal skills are required. Flexible working hours are also required. Previous research experience, especially with infants or children, is strongly preferred.

Additional highly desired qualifications include:
- Strong computational, statistical, and technical skills (e.g., in Matlab, R, Python)
- Experience with scientific outreach
- Familiarity with IRB protocol submissions

Interested applicants must apply through the Interfolio link ( Please submit a cover letter, CV, and contact information for two references. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

New York University is an Equal Opportunity Employer. New York University is committed to a policy of equal treatment and opportunity in every aspect of its hiring and promotion process without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, pregnancy or childbirth (or related medical condition), sexual orientation, partnership status, gender and/or gender identity or expression, marital, parental or familial status, caregiver status, national origin, ethnicity, alienage or citizenship status, veteran or military status, age, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, or any other legally protected basis. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons of minority sexual orientation or gender identity, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply for vacant positions at all levels.


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