Elizabeth Spelke

Elizabeth Spelke
Résidents Labex RFIEA+
pas Eurias
pas FIAS

dates de séjour

01/02/2022 - 30/06/2022


Psychologie, psychiatrie et psychanalyse
Neurosciences et sciences cognitives

Fonction d’origine


Institution d’origine

Harvard University

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Interdisciplinary approaches to cognition and learning

The current proposed project has two goals.


1) to bring to fruition the next level of interdisciplinary collaboration between cognitive science and economics, by working with Esther Duflo and Stanislas Dehaene among others, and with a host of their collaborators in India, South America, Paris, and Chicago. 


2) to leverage the interdisciplinary focus on cognitive science, computational science, and neuroscience that is so rich in Paris to gain a deeper understanding of human language:  the cognitive and neural capacity that most distinguishes humans from other animals and that contributes most importantly to infants’ and children’s prodigious capacity for learning.


Elizabeth Spelke teaches in the Psychology Department at Harvard and participates in the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines at MIT. Formerly at Pennsylvania, Cornell, and MIT, she is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a corresponding fellow of the British Academy. Her awards include the 2016 Carvalho-Heineken Prize in Cognitive Sciences, the 2014 NAS Prize in the Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, the 2009 Jean Nicod Prize, and honorary degrees from the Universities of Umea (1993), Paris-Descartes (2007), Utrecht (2010), and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris, 1999). Her work is strongly marked by sabbaticals in Paris that spawned longstanding collaborations with investigators in the cognitive and brain sciences. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the French Ministry for Education.


The Spelke laboratory at Harvard University focuses on the sources of our uniquely human ability to learn both rapidly and flexibly, in domains ranging from formal mathematics, to map-guided navigation to common sense reasoning about objects, people, and social groups. Spelke studies the origins and growth of these and other abilities in human infants and children, by comparing their capacities to those of nonhuman primates and other model animals, as well as to the capacities of children and adults living in different circumstances, including first-generation school children in poor regions of India, and Amazonian children with limited access to any formal schooling.