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Celebration of Marjorie Taylor

We have a terrific lineup of speakers coming to campus to celebrate Marjorie Taylor on the occasion of her retirement. The main events will take place in Gerlinger Hall from 2 – 6pm followed by a reception. The full schedule is below and in this flyer. Please join us!

2 – 2:15: Introductory remarks by Ulrich Mayr and Mike Posner

2:15 – 3: Paul Harris, Harvard University

“The reality-bound imagination of young children”

Although young children are often credited with a rich imaginative life, I argue that their imagination is generally reality-bound. It is constrained by their grasp of everyday causal constraints on what can actually happen.  Children need to be inspired by external input such as fairy stories – or a religious education – if they are to imagine the impossible.

3 – 3:45: Susan Gelman, University of Michigan

“The non-obvious foundations of human thought”

A hallmark of human cognition is the capacity to consider ideas that are non-obvious, invisible, or abstract. In this talk, I will review evidence that, contrary to classic assumptions, young children readily consider hidden, internal, abstract entities. I will discuss examples from categorization, language, and children’s understanding of everyday objects.  I will also discuss how Marjorie Taylor’s beautiful research on children’s imagination exemplifies the non-obvious foundations of everyday thought.

3:45 – 4: Break

4 – 4:45: Paul Bloom, Yale University

“The problem with stories”

We tend to think of the universal appetite for fiction and the imagination as a good thing, something that enriches our lives and makes us better people. I will explore the dark side of this human capacity, arguing that our drive for narrative often has tragic effects. 

4:45 – 5:30: Stephanie Carlson, University of Minnesota

“What do dreamers and control freaks have in common?”

We often think of “dreamers” and “control freaks” as opposite types of individuals and, perhaps as a result, developmental psychologists have rarely considered how these characteristics could stem from common sources in brain and cognitive development. I will describe my journey beginning as a student of Dr. Marjorie Taylor and her immense influence on my thinking and research about the links between imagination and the development of executive function — that is, conscious control over thoughts, emotional expressions, and decisions.

6pm: Reception