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JHU Researcher Lisa Feigenson Receives 2015 Troland Research Award

February 2, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Tracey Reeves
Office: 443-997-9903
Cell: 443-986-4053

Lisa Feigenson

Lisa Feigenson, a Johns Hopkins University researcher, who specializes in cognition and memory in humans as early as infancy, is a recipient of the National Academy of Sciences 2015 Troland Research Award.

Feigenson, professor of psychological and brain sciences in the university’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, received the award along with Yael Niv, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University. They will each receive $75,000.

The Troland Research Award is given annually to recognize unusual achievement by young investigators, and to further empirical research within the broad spectrum of experimental psychology, according to the academy.

Feigenson received the award last month for her meticulous investigations of the origins and early development of representations of objects and numbers. Her research on cognition in infancy illuminates the foundations of young children’s mathematical reasoning and learning, according to the academy.

“It is humbling to be named in the company of such a distinguished group of scientists,” said Feigenson. “I am very grateful to the National Academy, and to the Troland Family, for making such an effort to recognize young investigators.”

Feigenson added that the Troland Award is especially meaningful to her because her longtime colleague and fellow cognitive psychologist in the Krieger School, the late Steve Yantis, was a previous recipient.

Feigenson, who is director of the Laboratory for Child Development at Johns Hopkins, added that her award recognizes the “fantastic group of post-docs, graduate students, and undergraduates” she has worked with over the last several years.

The academy cited work by Feigenson, and her team, that has shed light on many fundamental processes of human cognition and memory by teasing out the limits on what infants and children are able to understand about numbers and the processes that underlie that understanding. She demonstrated, for example, that infants between 12 and 14 months of age can differentiate between one, two and three objects – but not four.

Further experiments showed that the limit of three could be overcome by grouping objects in small sets, allowing infants to remember groups of up to eight objects. With such work, Feigenson and colleagues have illuminated some of the fundamental cognitive abilities that are in place early in life, which are subject to change as children learn through further experience, the academy said.

Niv’s work focuses on how the brain sorts information, effectively parsing complex environments into relevant chunks that can be acted on efficiently.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and—with the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council—provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Related links:

Johns Hopkins Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences


Johns Hopkins Laboratory for Child Development


A color photo of Lisa Feigenson is available. Please contact Tracey Reeves




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