Faculty Mentors

Professor Alan Leslie was an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh and received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford (where it is called a D.Phil.) in 1979/80. He was a Medical Research Council Senior Scientist at the University of London before moving to Rutgers in 1993. He is interested in the design of the cognitive system early in development; he's struck by the fact that certain very abstract ideas (cause and effect, enduring object, one, two, three, social agent, believing, pretending, desiring, purpose, and moral transgression) emerge early in life before formal schooling; and he is trying to understand what kinds of neurocognitive mechanisms make it possible for us to think about these abstract entities and relations. This leads him to be interested in domain-specialized learning. His lab runs experiments with babies to measure looking times and with preschool children where they use other kinds of tests. They also run related studies with children who have an autistic spectrum disorder. He was a member of the team in London who, some twenty years ago, discovered the ‘theory of mind’ impairment in autism. His work continues today trying to understand how normal development works and how it goes wrong in autism.  Professor Leslie is planning to be on leave in Fall 2008, but has expressed interest to work with new students as a Faculty Mentor.

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W ruccs.rutgers.edu/~aleslie