Elizabeth M. Brannon
Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Chair
Professor, Dept. of Psychology
Dr. Elizabeth M. Brannon graduated Summa Cum Laude from The University of Pennsylvania, where she received her B.A. in Physical Anthropology in 1992. She received a Masters degree in Anthropology and a PhD in Psychology from Columbia University. She has been at Duke in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience since the year 2000 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008 and Full Professor in 2012. She is currently the Director of Graduate Studies for the Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting Program (CNAP) and the head of the developmental area within P&N. She maintains a secondary appointment in the department of Evolutionary Anthropology.
She has received numerous academic awards and honors including the Young Investigator Award from The Society for Experimental Psychology, a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, a Merck Scholar Award, and a James McDonnell Scholar Award. She is on the editorial board of Cognition, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, Psychological Science, and Infancy. Dr. Brannon’s research is funded by The National Institutes of Health and The National Science Foundation. She teaches courses on cognitive development and comparative psychology and maintains two laboratories focused on quantitative cognition in nonhuman primates and human infants.
Rosa Rugani is an experimental psychologist specialized in the
developmental and evolutionary origin of numerical competences.
After receiving a Master’s degree in Psychology and a PhD in Experimental
Psychology at the University of Padova, she carried out her research
activity in the Department of General Psychology at the same
university and at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences of the University
of Trento. She was a visiting researcher at the Center for Avian
Cognition of the Saskatchewan University (Canada), at the Center for
Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, North Carolina (USA), and in the
Department of Psychology at the University of Potsdam (Germany).
She is an expert of comparative cognition, experiment’s design, brain
lateralization and numerical cognition. In 2008 she received the
“Giovani Studiosi” Grant from the University of Padova to investigate
the left-right asymmetries in spatial numerical processing. In 2017
she was also awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service. Her research
activity is currently funded by a H2020-MSCA-IF-2017 Global fellowship
“SNANeB – At the roots of Spatial Numerical Association: From
behavioural observation to Neural Basis”, Prot. n. 795242- SNANeB.
In the Brannon Lab, she works to unveil the origin of the Spatial
Numerical Association (SNA). Humans represent numbers on a left to
right oriented mental number line, with small numbers located on the
left and large ones on the right. It has been suggested that the
left-to-right orientation of the mental number line emerges as a
result of exposure to formal instruction. Recent evidence has shown
that pre-verbal infants and animals associate numbers with space;
suggesting that the SNA originates from pre-linguistic and
biologically determined precursors. Our challenge is to explain how
the neural substrate can determine a left-to-right orientation of the
Stephanie received her PhD from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, where she worked with Dr. Daniel Ansari. Her research focused on characterizing the numerical deficits of children with persistent dyscalculia, a specific math learning disorder, using both behavioral and functional neuroimaging tools. Her present work focuses on examining the neural plastic changes induced by approximate arithmetic training in both children and adults and exploring the mechanisms underlying transfer effects of approximate arithmetic training on symbolic math.
Graduate Student, University of Pennsylvania
Emily received her BS in Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 2012, where she worked in the labs of Dr. Whitney Tabor and Dr. Etan Markus studying learning from cognitive psychology and behavioral neuroscience perspectives. Emily taught English as a foreign language at a public elementary school in Gyeongju, South Korea, before working with Dr. Brannon as a graduate student, She is interested in educational implications of nonsymbolic numerical representations and in the growing field of educational neuroscience.
Undergraduate, University of Pennsylvania