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PROFILE — Anna Fisher
Click to Enlarge Photo . . . Associate Professor
Area: Developmental

Contact information:
Psychology office: 335I Baker Hall
Psychology phone: 412-268-8656

Cognitive Development Laboratory

Research Interests:

Cognitive Development; Inductive Generalization; Category- Based Reasoning; Language & Cognition; Attention & Learning; Individual Differences

A major goal of my research is to contribute to understanding of how young children learn and how they generalize knowledge. In some ways, these processes are remarkably similar in humans and other species. For instance, a variety of species can learn visual and auditory categories based on the distribution of features in the input. In other ways, generalization in humans is remarkably different from that in other species. To name just a few, only humans exhibit evidence of the ability to organize categories into multiple levels of abstraction, create ad-hoc categories, establish arbitrary groupings, or engage in higher-order reasoning. My research explores the development of uniquely human modes of learning and inference, and I am particularly interested in the development of category-based inductive reasoning. A related line of research in my lab explores the relationship between sustained attention and learning. Ultimately, this line of research seeks to apply insights from developmental cognitive psychology to improve childrenÕs learning in academic settings.

Representative Publications:

For a full list of publications go to

Fisher, A.V., Godwin, E.K., & Matlen, B. (2015). Development of inductive generalization with familiar categories. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. doi: 10.3758/s13423-015-0816-5

Fisher A.V., Godwin, E.K., Matlen, B., & Unger, L. (2015). Development of category-based induction and semantic knowledge. Child Development, 86(1), 48-62. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12277

Fisher, A.V., Godwin, K.E., & Seltman, H. (2014). Visual environment, attention allocation, and learning: When too much of a good thing may be bad. Psychological Science, 25(7) 1362Š1370. doi: 10.1177/0956797614533801

Fisher, A.V., Thiessen, E. D., Godwin, K.E., Kloos, H., & Dickerson, J.P. (2013). Assessing selective sustained attention in 3- to 5-year-old children: Evidence from a new paradigm. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 275-294. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.07.006

Fisher, A.V. (2011). Processing of perceptual information is more robust than processing of conceptual information in preschool-age children: Evidence from costs of switching. Cognition, 119, 253-264. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2011.01.015

Fisher, A.V., Matlen, B., & Godwin, K.E. (2011). Semantic similarity of labels and inductive generalization: Taking a second look. Cognition, 118, 432-438. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2010.12.008

Fisher, A.V. (2011). Automatic shifts of attention in the Dimensional Change Card Sort task: Subtle changes in task materials lead to flexible switching. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 211-219. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2010.07.001

Fisher, A.F., & Sloutsky, V.M. (2005). When induction meets memory: Evidence for gradual transition from similarity-based to category-based induction. Child Development, 76, 583-597.

Sloutsky, V.M., & Fisher, A.V. (2004). Induction and categorization in young children: A similarity-based model. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133 (2), 166-188.


Assistants to Dr. Fisher:
Manon Sohn,

Current Graduate Students:
Karrie Godwin,
Layla Unger,

Related Links:

  • Curriculum Vitae (pdf file)
  • Cognitive Development Laboratory
  • Program in Interdisciplinary Education Research (PIER)
  • CMU Directory Information