Vanessa Simmering, PhD
Assistant Professor, Psychology
PhD, University of Iowa
Department of Psychology
University of Wisconsin – Madison
1202 West Johnson St.
Madison, WI 53706
My research investigates the development of perception, action, and cognition, with an emphasis on visuo-spatial cognition. In particular, I study how young children (ages 2-6 years) learn and remember objects properties and locations in space. My research also utilizes dynamic neural field models to understand how brain development might relate to the behavioral development I study in the lab.
Currently, I have two primary lines of research. First, I am investigating how children learn to maintain spatial orientation, that is, how they coordinate their body with the locations of objects as they move through space; this work, builds on my previous research on how children perceive and remember locations within object-centered frames of reference. Second, I am studying how memory for object features is changing during early development, specifically whether there are changes in the number of items that children can remember, and the precision of their memory representations. I am particularly interested in whether developmental changes in visual cognition parallel change in spatial cognition during early childhood, and the implications of these developmental patterns for our understanding of the role of experience in cognitive development.
Simmering VR, Miller HE, Bohache K. (2015) Different developmental trajectories across feature types support a dynamic field model of visual working memory development. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. In Press.
Horst JS, Simmering VR. (2015) Category learning in a dynamic world. Frontiers in Psychology. 30;6:46. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00046.
Johnson JS, Simmering VR, Buss AT. (2014) Beyond slots and resources: grounding cognitive concepts in neural dynamics. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. 76(6):1630-54. doi: 10.3758/s13414-013-0596-9.
Simmering VR, Perone S. (2013) Working memory capacity as a dynamic process. Frontiers in Psychology. 3:567.
Simmering VR. (2012) The development of visual working memory capacity during early childhood. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Apr;111(4):695-707.
Simmering VR, Patterson AR. (2012) Models provide specificity: Testing a proposed mechanism of visual working memory capacity development. Cognitive Development. 27(4):419-439.
Perone S, Simmering VR, Spencer JP. (2011) Stronger neural dynamics capture changes in infants’ visual working memory capacity over development. Developmental Science. Nov;14(6):1379-92.
Simmering VR, Triesch J, Deák GO, Spencer JP. (2010) To Model or Not to Model? A Dialogue on the Role of Computational Modeling in Developmental Science. Child Development Perspectives. Aug;4(2):152-158.
Simmering VR, Spencer JP. (2008) Generality with specificity: the dynamic field theory generalizes across tasks and time scales. Developmental Science. Jul;11(4):541-55.
Simmering VR, Schutte AR, Spencer JP. (2008) Generalizing the dynamic field theory of spatial cognition across real and developmental time scales. Brain Research. Apr 2;1202:68-86.