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Emotion as a window to the unobserved world

If you look at the images on your right, you can recognize many aspects of each scene (e.g., people, hands, sofas, and shirts). Strikingly however, you may find that you can also recover information that is not in the scene at all: a sports event in Scene 1, a horror movie in Scene 2, and a baby in Scene 3. Living in a partially observed world, we need to make inferences both about things that are outside of our visual field and things that are intrinsically hidden (e.g., others’ beliefs and desires). In my research, I look at whether people can use explicit emotional cues to recover rich unobserved information about the world. I aim to characterize the representations supporting this ability, the underlying computations, and their origins and development in infancy and childhood. My methods include computational models and behavioral studies with infants, children and adults.

I am now a Postdoctoral Associate working in the Social Learning Lab (PI: Dr. Hyowon Gweon) and the Language and Cognition Lab (PI: Dr. Michael C. Frank) at Stanford University. During my Ph.D. studies, I worked in the Early Childhood Cognition Lab (PI: Dr. Laura E. Schulz) and the Computational Cognitive Science Group (PI: Dr. Josh B. Tenenbaum) at MIT.