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 projects of students in our laboratory

Tal Ravid-Roth

I'm a Ph.D. student on the direct Ph.D. track, in a collaboration between the University of Haifa and Tel Aviv University. I'm specializing in developmental psychology, specifically motor development in infancy. My research examines the early-life development of the reward system and its connection to the motor system.
I hold a B.A. in psychology (Summa cum Laude) from The Open University.
Apart from my academic pursuits, I'm proud to be Alon's wife and Shay and Adi's mom.


Our experiment tracks the eye movements of infants while they observe various videos. The aim of this study is to delve into the realm of early motor development in infants and gain insights into their motor learning processes.

The significance of this experiment is paramount to our understanding of the foundational aspects of human motor development. By dissecting the intricate mechanisms responsible for the reinforcement and attenuation of motor pathways based on sensory predictions and their corresponding outcomes, we aim to shed light on a fundamental question: How do infants acquire motor skills and adjust their actions in response to feedback?

This exploration can provide us with a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying the construction of motor skills in infants and the adaptive processes they employ. This, in turn, contributes to a more comprehensive comprehension of the core developmental processes that underpin early human growth.

By investigating how infants learn and refine motor behaviors through reinforcement mechanisms, we can gain insights into the dynamic interplay between sensory predictions, motor pathways, and the outcomes of learning processes. By deciphering the intricate dance between prediction and actual motor outcomes, we aspire to advance our knowledge of motor learning during infancy.

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Nina Besser Ilan

I'm a second-year M.Sc. student at Sagol School of Neuroscience who studies learning strategies in young school-aged children. Children learn better through shared social experiences. These shared experiences are reflected in neural synchrony, which underlies predict understanding of the learned information. For adults, the scaffolding strategy, a shared social experience that involves active engagement rather than passive listening, has been shown to promote learning and has been linked with higher neural synchrony compared to passive learning. In my study, I compare learning outcomes and the neural basis of two learning strategies in the context of storytelling. I study whether children will perform higher levels of neural synchrony as well as improved performances when they scaffold the learned information (tell a story about it) compared to when they passively listen.

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Pablo Rodriguez Osztreicher

I'm currently pursuing my studies in the International M.Sc. in Neuroscience at the Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University. I earned my B.A. in Psychology with honors from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

My research focuses on the development of symbolic reasoning and abstraction, under the joint supervision of Sagi Jaffe-Dax from the Center for Cognitive Development and Michael Gilead from the Symbolic Cognition and Interaction Lab at the School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University.

Our experiments involve analyzing infants' and young children's gaze in response to various stimuli. By employing statistical learning and abstract rule learning paradigms, this research addresses aspects such as the representation of objects as concrete tokens versus types, the extent of categorical generalization, and the comprehension of rule combinatorial logic.

The significance of this research extends to the core of human cognition: language. Symbolic reasoning and abstraction are essential for language acquisition and usage but may emerge before frank language develops. By studying preverbal or early-verbal babies, we seek to gain insights into the origins of these phenomena. Through this work, I aim to contribute to a deeper understanding of the underpinnings of human symbolic cognition.

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Manar Khalaila

As a master's student at Tel Aviv University's Center for Cognitive Development, with B.A. in psychology and gender studies from the same institution, I am currently investigating gaze aversion in children and its relationship with intelligence, along with exploring the correlation between Theory of Mind (ToM) and intelligence. Additionally, my research delves into intergroup differences by examining children from different ethnic backgrounds, specifically Jews and Arabs.

In our experiment, children wear eye tracking glasses while answering questions about their experiences and thoughts in an interview. Then, each participant completes ToM tasks (involving strange stories and silent clips) and sections from Wechsler tests (such as matrix reasoning and picture concepts).

The primary aim of this study is to challenge the hypothesis suggesting that children who struggle with maintaining eye contact may necessarily have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Instead, we propose that these children might exhibit exceptional intelligence, which could influence their gaze patterns due to heightened cognitive abilities.

Moreover, our research endeavors to enhance our understanding of the relationship between intelligence and ToM, potentially confirming the theory that suggests ToM is more related to attention than mere social situation knowledge.

By examining two distinct ethnic groups, we aim to address a fundamental question: Does cultural and educational background influence the rate at which children develop ToM, and how they communicate with their environment through eye movements?

In conclusion, this study not only challenges prevailing assumptions about gaze aversions and autism but also sheds light on the intricate connections between intelligence, culture, and social cognition. Understanding these dynamics can significantly contribute to developing more nuanced approaches to child development and education.

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