Welcome to the Mind and Development Lab at UC San Diego!

We study the cognitive processes that allow children to understand other people, and the social meaning of things people create, such as tools, art, music, and technology. We also explore the origins of musicality, asking why human musicality is so early developing and socially impactful from early in life. Our work has been funded by the NSF, NIH, APF, and GRAMMY Foundation.

The UCSD Mind and Development Lab is directed by Dr. Adena Schachner, and is based in UC San Diego's Department of Psychology. We are a member of the UCSD Kid Science Labs.


June 2022:

  • Grad student Minju Kim's paper on the origins of dance in infancy was accepted for publication in Developmental Psychology! Congrats Minju!

  • Grad student Lauren Oey's paper on the role of theory of mind and recursive social reasoning in lying behavior was accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General! Congrats Lauren!

  • Congratulations to our fabulous graduating seniors, Diana Wang, Leila Latham, and Jubilee (Izzy) Shroff!

April 2022:

  • Post-doc Dr. Madison Pesowski has accepted a tenure-track faculty position at the University of the Fraser Valley! Big congrats Madison!

February 2022:

  • Grad student Tanushree Agrawal's paper on musicality and moral decisions was accepted for publication in the Psychology of Music! You can read it here! Congrats Tanushree!

July 2021:

  • We published our recent findings on children's understanding of perception and physical interaction over video chat in the journal Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies. Congrats to all of the hardworking research assistants and graduates who worked on the project!

  • Our graduate students Minju Kim, Lauren Oey, and Alexis Smith-Flores, as well as our Postdoc Madison Pesowski presented their research at the annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society. You can check out some of their presentations here!

June 2021: Grad student Tanushree Agrawal, along with Drs. Adena Schachner, Joshua Rottman, and Mike McCollough, was awarded a grant from the Grammy Foundation to fund her work on musicality and moral behavior! Big applause!

January 2021: Four of our undergraduate Research Assistants presented research at UCSD's Lab Expo! Heidy Davila presented "From music to animacy: Adults' causal reasoning about sound", Angela Mak and Joanna Jain presented "Effective disambiguation in communication through gesture", and Franco Mercado presented "Social inferences from artifacts: Young children use artifacts to infer others' mutual interests". Way to go - we're so proud of you!

July 2020:

  • Grad student Lauren Oey won the Cognitive Science Society Modeling Prize for Applied Cognition for her paper with Isabella DeStefano, Erik Brockbank, and Ed Vul, "Formalizing interdisciplinary collaboration in the CogSci community". Congrats Lauren!

  • Members of our lab attended the first virtual conference of the year. You can see some of the presentations we gave here.

June 2020: Postdoc Madison Pesowski was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada!

May 2020: We are so excited to announce that Dr. Schachner (our PI) received an Outstanding Mentor Award! Congratulations!

January 2020: Two of our undergraduate Research Assistants, Finiva Ednalino and Maxine Covello, as well as our lab coordinator, Alyssa Quy, presented at UCSD's Lab Expo! Finiva and Maxine presented on children's ability to hear the temperature of water being poured, and Alyssa presented findings on the development of intuitive archeological reasoning. Great posters with interesting findings!

September 2019: Madison Pesowski, who received her PhD at the University of Waterloo, has joined the lab as a new Postdoc. Welcome Madison!

July 2019: Graduate students Ethan Hurwitz and Lauren Oey presented their new findings at the annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Ethan also won a travel and research award to attend the conference! Go MaD lab!

Here are some of the research projects our lab is working on: