Research Team

peopleMuentenerPaul Muentener – Principal Investigator

Dr. Muentener is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Cognitive Development Laboratory at Tufts University. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University in 2009, and his B.A. from Georgetown University in 2004. Following his Ph.D., Dr. Muentener served as a postdoctoral fellow at M.I.T.’s Brain and Cognitive Science Department and was a Simons Fellow at the Simons Center for the Social Brain.

Dr. Muentener is broadly interested in the foundations of cognitive development, how language and cognition interact across development, and early individual differences in cognitive development. His current research investigates infants and toddler’s causal reasoning abilities and exploratory play, children and adult’s causal language and event representations, and adults’ beliefs about cognitive development. The lab uses a variety of measures, including looking time, actions, and language, and also explores individual differences and atypical cognitive development.

Dr. Muentener’s Curriculum Vitae can be viewed here.

Julia Wefferling  Graduate Student

Julia is a doctoral student and Provost’s Fellow at Tufts University. She graduated from a B.A./M.A. program in psychology at Montclair State University in 2020. During her time at Montclair State, she conducted research in a cognitive and language development lab where she studied categorization and language development with children 6 months- 4.5 years of age. In addition, she worked in a social psychology lab focusing on people’s perceptions of other individual’s size, race, and gender. Working in both labs shaped her current research interests of combining social, cognitive, and developmental psychology. She is interested in how social context, and context in general, shape memories and how/when certain stereotypes and biases form in children, including the implication of those biases throughout development.

Gauri Harindranath  Graduate Student

Gauri is a doctoral student and Stibel Fellow at Tufts University. She graduated with a B.S. in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2021. At UMass, she conducted research related to decision-making in a cognitive lab. Along with that, she was an intern at developmental labs at Boston University and Harvard University, where she focused on social development and on the influence of language on cognition. Working in these labs shaped her current interest in cognitive development. She aims to study the development of causal reasoning and how children think about science.

Lab Alumni

Rebecca Peretz-Lange   Former Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2020)

Rebecca is a doctoral student and Provost’s Fellow at Tufts. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2013 with a BA in psychology and philosophy. There, she conducted research for two years in a cognitive development lab, studying the interactions of language and cognition. After graduating, she worked as a Research Assistant with education nonprofit Facing History, studying how different history pedagogies influence students’ moral, social, and historical reasoning. She is interested in basic cognitive and epistemological questions surrounding essentialist reasoning, causal explanation, language and thought, folk scientific and social theories, and conceptual change. She is also interested in translating this basic research to applications that may impact the public’s social or scientific reasoning.