I received my PhD in 1984 from the City University of New York and have been on the faculty at Rutgers since 1987. I am active in the cognitive area in the psychology department and I am a member of the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science (RuCCS). I also supervise the Douglass-Psychology Child Study Center, a laboratory school for preschool children located on the Douglass Campus.
I study memory development in children, the development of children’s understanding of time, the development of planning skill in children and adults, and autobiographic memory and narrative construction in children and adults. I focus primarily on memory for real-world events and the development of real-world planning skills (event planning and time management).
One of my long-standing interests concerns the role of parent-child interaction in the development of children’s memory for the past and their ability to think about and plan for future events. I have explored how conversations about everyday past and future events between mothers and children affect children’s long-term autobiographic memory and their understanding of future time between. I also investigate how parent’s use of temporal language in conversations about past and future events affects children’s understanding of time concepts. In addition, I am interested in how individual differences in children’s and parents’ temperament affect the ways that parents and children interact in conversations and in planning tasks.
In my research on memory development, I have examined the ways in which young children can be reminded of past experiences. Viewing videos of events, looking at photographs, and talking about events are all ways in which children can be reminded of the past, but whether or not a reminder will be effective depends on the age of the child. This line of research has led me to examine the development of children’s understanding of video and photographs as symbolic media between the ages of 18 and 30 months.
Another research interest concerns the effects of emotion on autobiographic memory and narrative construction. I am interested in how mood affects the emotional content of autobiographic memory and how the narrative structure varies as a function of emotional content. One line of research examines effects of odors on adults’ moods and the ways in which exposure to odors affects the emotional content of autobiographic memory reports, dream reports, and story narratives.