About

The Persistence of Memory (1931) by Salvador Dalí

I study the effects of perception, language, and culture on the formation of abstract, uniquely-human concepts in the mind, and how these factors interact during children’s cognitive development. While I study many concepts, I am particularly interested in how children acquire sophisticated, adult-like concepts of time. The nature of time has perplexed scholars in numerous fields, from philosophy to physics, and reflections on this mystery permeate art and literature from around the world. My hope is that, if we can understand how time concepts are formed in the mind of a child, we may also gain insight into what these concepts consist of in adults, and why they sometimes differ so much between cultures and individuals.

In the Fall of 2018, I joined the Psychology Department at The University of Texas at Austin as an Assistant Professor and PI of Austin Thought Lab, located in the Children’s Research Center. In addition to research, I teach Cognitive Development to undergraduates and am developing a graduate student writing workshop.

I received my Ph.D. in 2017 from the Department of Psychology at UC San Diego, where I was a member of Prof. David Barner’s Language and Development Lab. Prior to UCSD, I was a research scientist at New York University, studying visual perception, object recognition, and reading for many years with Prof. Denis Pelli. I received my BA in Psychology, summa cum laude, from NYU in 2009 and my MA in Psychology from UCSD in 2012. I previously worked as manager of a yoga studio, technical editor for the Journal of Vision, teenage x-ray tech, and panhandling hitch-hiker. I am also a creative writer, an Internet dinosaur, and a mother. I grew up in Georgia.

Contact me at ktillman@utexas.edu

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