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Melissa Libertus

Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology

Research Scientist, Learning Research & Development Center

Research Interests

  • Neural and behavioral basis of numerical cognition
  • Development of quantitative understanding
  • Developmental cognitive neuroscience
  • Individual differences in math achievement
  • Relationship between working memory, attention, and mathematical abilities
  • Developmental dyscalculia
  • Interventions for math difficulties

Pailian, H., Libertus, M., Feigenson, L., Halberda, J. (in press). Developmental Changes in Visual Short-Term Memory (VSTM) Capacity Between Ages 3 and 8 Years. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.

Braham, E., Libertus, M. (2016). Intergenerational Associations in Numerical Approximation and Mathematical Abilities. Developmental Science.

Einspieler, C., Bos, A., Libertus, M., Marschik, P. (2016). The general movement assessment helps us to identify preterm infants at risk for cognitive dysfunction. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.

Libertus, M. E., Odic, D., Feigenson, L., Halberda, J. (2016). The precision of mapping between number words and the approximate number system predicts children’s formal math abilities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 150, 207-226.

Libertus, M. E. (2015). The Role of Intuitive Approximation Skills for School Math Abilities. Mind, Brain, and Education, 9(9), 112-120. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mbe.12072

Keller, L. E., Libertus, M. (2015). Inhibitory control may not explain the link between approximation and math abilities in kindergarteners from middle class families. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 6, 685.

Libertus, M., Odic, D., Feigenson, L., Halberda, J. (2015). A Developmental Vocabulary Assessment for Parents (DVAP): Validating parental report of vocabulary size in 2-7-year-olds. Journal of Cognition and Development.

Libertus, M., Marschik, P. B., Einspieler, C. (2014). Number word use in toddlerhood predicts number recall performance at seven years of age. PLoS ONE, 9(6).

Libertus, M. E., Feigenosn, L., Halberda, J., & Landau, B. (2014). Understanding the mapping between numerical approximation and number words: evidence from Williams syndrome and typical development. Developmental Science, 1-15.

Libertus, M., Starr, A., & Brannon, E. (2014). Number trumps area for 7-month-old infants. Developmental Psychology, 50(1), 108-112.

Starr, A., Libertus, M., Brannon, E. (2013). Infants show ratio-dependent number discrimination regardless of set size. Infancy, 18(6), 927-941.

Hellgren, K., Halberda, J., Forsman, L., Aden, U., Libertus, M. (2013). Compromised approximate number sense in extremely preterm school-aged children. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 55(12), 1109-1114.

Starr, A., Libertus, M., Brannon, E. (2013). Number sense in infancy predicts mathematical abilities in childhood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Article was featured in Science, Nature, one of top 100 stories in 2013 in Discover, National Geographic, Washington Post, and on NSF Science 360, 110(45), 18116-18120.

Odic, D., Libertus, M., Feigenson, L., Halberda, J. (2013). Developmental change in the acuity of approximating area and approximating number. Developmental Psychology.

Feigenson, L., Libertus, M., Halberda, J. (2013). Links between the intuitive sense of number and formal mathematics ability. Child Development Perspectives.

Libertus, M., Feigenson, L., Halberda, J. (2013). Numerical approximation abilities correlate with and predict informal but not formal mathematics abilities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116(4), 829-838.

Möhring, W., Libertus, M., Bertin, E. (2012). Speed discrimination in 6- and 10-month-old infants follows Weber's Law. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 111, 405-418.

Libertus, M., Odic, D., Halberda, J. (2012). Intuitive sense of number correlates with math scores on college-entrance examination. Acta Psychologica.

Libertus, M., Brannon, E., Woldorff, M. (2011). Parallels in stimulus-driven oscillatory brain responses to numerical changes in adults and seven-month-old infants. Developmental
Neuropsychology, 36
(6), 651-667.

Libertus, M., Feigenson, L., Halberda, J. (2011). Preschool acuity of the approximate number system correlates with school math ability. Developmental Science, 14(6), 1292-1300.

Cantlon, J., Davis, S., Libertus, M., Kahane, J., Brannon, E., Pelphrey, K. (2011). Intra-parietal white matter predicts numerical performance in young children. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(6), 672-680.

Wu, C.-T., Libertus, M., Meyerhoff, K., Woldorff, M. (2011). The temporal dynamics of object processing before and during the transition from distributed to focused spatial attention. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(12), 4094-4105.

Libertus, M., Brannon, E. (2010). Stable individual differences in number discrimination in infancy. Developmental Science, 13(6), 900-906.

Cantlon, J., Cordes, S., Libertus, M., Brannon, E. (2009). Comment on Log or Linear? Distinct Intuitions of the Number Scale in Western and Amazonian Indigene Cultures. Science, 323, 38b.

Libertus, M., Brannon, E., Pelphrey, K. (2009). Developmental changes in category-specific brain responses to numbers and letters in a working memory task. Neuroimage, 44(4), 1404-

Melissa Libertus, LRDC Research Scientist and Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC alum Roberta Golinkoff, Professor, Education, University of Delaware, were published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on-line Philly.com “Commentary: Good Math Skills Begin at Home.” The article was also published in the Virgin Islands Daily News.

January 2, 2017


LRDC Research Scientist and Associate Professor, Psychology, Melissa Libertus is quoted in NPR's article "When Blind People Do Algebra, The Brain's Visual Areas Light Up."

September 19, 2016


LRDC Graduate Student Emily Braham and Research Scientist Melissa Libertus were featured in the September 6 TIME online article "How to Help Your Kid With Math Even if You Suck at It."

September 6, 2016


LRDC Research Scientist Melissa Libertus is quoted in The Indian Express (September 2) article "Poor in Maths? Blame it on Your Parents."

September 2, 2016


Melissa Libertus, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, and Ming-Te Wang, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Associate Professor, School of Education have been named 2015 APS Rising Stars, which recognizes outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research careers

January 2016

Melissa Libertus and collaborator Aidan Wright Klaus have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for their project "Tell Me About Math: A Longitudinal Training Study on the Effects of Parent-child Interactions and Parental Cognition on Children's Math Abilities."

August 31, 2015


"What Do Babies Have in Mind?" describes the work of LRDC Research Scientist Melissa Libertus and Research Associate Klaus Libertus, in the September 8 issue of the Pitt Chronicle.

September 2014


A list of recent LRDC award recipients is on page 18 of the August 28 issue of the University Times. Einat Heyd-Metzuyanim, Melissa Libertus, Diane Litman, Charles Perfetti, Christian Schunn, Natasha Tokowicz, Tessa Warren, and Jingtao Wang were all mentioned.

August 2014


Melissa Libertus's Kids' Thinking Laboratory (KiT Lab) was mentioned in the  "What's New at Pitt: Things" section on page 12 of the August 28 issue of the University Times.

August 2014


Melissa Libertus was selected to receive a Mind Brain and Education Society Early Career Award for 2014. This award is designed to recognize early career researchers who have made significant research contributions to the field of Mind, Brain, and Education.

June 2014


"Mathematical Ability of Students seems to be Evident Even When they are Still Infants"- an article on new LRDC faculty member Melissa Libertus' research on infants and math skills

November 2013

The Washington Post


New LRDC faculty member Melissa Libertus' research on infants and math skills was featured.  This has also appeared in other news outlets (e.g. http://news.sciencemag.org/brain-behavior/2013/10/babies-are-born-some-math-skills).

October 2013

Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences


Building Bridges Travel Award

June 2011

German Scholars Organization

Developmental Science Early Career Research Prize


Runner-up, 1st Homewood Postdoctoral Poster Competition

August 2010

Johns Hopkins University

Doktoranden-Posterpreis, Lizentianden- & Doktoranden Kongress [PhD student poster award]

May 2010

Universität Zürich

Katherine Goodman Stern Fellowship

September 2009 - May 2010

Duke University

Frances Degen Horowitz Millennium Scholar

April 2009

Society for Research in Child Development

George H. Hitchings New Investigator Award in Health Research and Training

August 2006 - August 2007

Triangle Community Foundation


August 2004 - August 2009

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University