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Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, studies cognitive development.
 
Posted 10.18.05

Psychology Department Welcomes New Assistant Professor

Hilary Barth has joined the Psychology Department as an assistant professor.

Barth received her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College in psychology, concentrating in neural and behavioral sciences in 1996. She received her Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in cognitive neuroscience in 2002. Her research involved behavioral and brain imaging studies of numerical cognition - the study of how humans think about numbers and quantities.

She currently studies cognitive development, specifically the development of number and quantity understanding.

“Even before they receive formal math training in school, young children have some impressive quantitative abilities,” Barth explains. “In fact, even babies and nonhuman animals have a rough sort of quantitative understanding. For example, they both can discriminate between two sets of objects based on number.”

Barth examines adults' and children's performance in lab-based experiments to investigate what humans can do with these basic abilities, how they develop throughout life, and how they may serve as building blocks to more sophisticated math learning.

Barth teaches Sensation and Perception this fall and will teach developmental psychology and a seminar in cognitive neuroscience in spring. In the future, she would like to teach a specialized cognitive development seminar.

Barth is the lead author on two publications this year. They are “Abstract number and arithmetic in preschool children,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2005 and “Non-symbolic arithmetic in adults and young children,” which is in press in Cognition.

Before coming to Wesleyan, Barth worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Lab for Developmental Studies at Harvard University since graduating from MIT. She also taught as a visiting professor at Wellesley College.

Coming to Wesleyan was a perfect fit for her interests, she says.

“I wanted to work at a school that combined the best of both worlds of a small college and larger university, and I think Wesleyan is one of the few places that can honestly say it does have a liberal arts atmosphere and a serious research emphasis.”

Barth lives in Middletown with her husband. She enjoys hiking, biking, gardening, skiing and cooking.
 
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor