Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC)

Lecture: Elizabeth Spelke

Keynote speaker



Elizabeth Spelke (Harvard University) will give a lecture about 'Core knowledge in human and animal minds'.


or forty years, I searched for the sources of our uniquely human cognitive accomplishments by studying the cognitive capacities of human infants.  The search came up empty:  none of the cognitive capacities that I studied—capacities for representing and reasoning about objects and their mechanical interactions, animals and their goal-directed actions, social beings and their engagements, numerical cognition, or spatial cognition—turned out to be unique to our species.  These negative findings support a rich picture of the origins of intelligence in animals, and a different hypothesis concerning the sources of our species’ unique cognitive achievements. 



Elizabeth Spelke is a cognitive and developmental psychologist.  She studied with Eleanor J. Gibson and Ulric Neisser at Cornell University and then taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, and MIT, prior to becoming the Marshall L. Berkman Professor of Psychology at Harvard.  Her laboratory focuses on the sources of uniquely human cognitive capacities, including the capacity for formal mathematics, the capacity for constructing and using symbolic representations such as maps, the capacity for developing comprehensive taxonomies of objects, and the capacity for reasoning about other humans and their social groups. By collaborating with investigators of animal cognition, with cognitive neuroscientists, with computational cognitive scientists, and more recently with economists, she seeks to understand how children are able to learn both so fast and so flexibly.

Published by  SMART Cognitive Science