Associate Professor of Cognitive Development
Melissa's research interests center on memory development, particularly memory for personal experiences. She has been exploring how parental verbal support may contribute to children's ability to recall the past.
In addition, she is interested in how emotion may affect reports of past experiences and how parents and children talk about these events.
She is currently examining autobiographical memory from a cross-cultural perspective to study how different socialization experiences may relate to the detail included in memory reports.
Autobiographical memories for personal past experiences create our life stories. Our memories range from the mundane to the momentous. In this course we will explore the functions of autobiographical memory as well as its development. What are the basic cognitive processes that contribute to our ability to remember and report the past? How do we interpret past events to inform the development of our self-identity? How do social experiences contribute to the development of memory? We will also discuss how emotions at encoding and retrieval influence our recall of past experience as we make meaning of personal past experiences. Key words: psychology, memory, narrative
Social relationships and social understanding are important parts of our lives from infancy onward. In this course, we will explore the developmental significance of parent-child and peer relationships from infancy into childhood and adolescence. We will also discuss children's understanding of theory of mind, gender, emotions, and self. In particular, we will focus on age-related changes in these skills and how they impact social relationships. We will also consider cross-cultural difference in patterns of social behavior. Evaluation will be based on participation, a series of short papers, and a longer final project. Students will read research articles and be responsible for class presentations.