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Melissa Libertus

Assistant 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

Libertus, K., Libertus, M., Einspieler, C., & Marschik, P. (in press). "What" matters more than "Why" - Neonatal behaviors initiate social responses. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Braham, E., & Libertus, M. (in press). Intergenerational associations in numerical approximation and mathematical abilities. Developmental Science.

Libertus, M., E., Liu, A., Pikul, O., Jacques, T., Cardoso-Leite, P., Halberda, J., & Bavelier, D. (2017). The impact of action video game training on mathematical abilities in adults. AERA Open.

Libertus, M. E., Feigenson, L. & Halberda, J. (2017). Infants extract frequency distributions from variable approximate numerical information. Infancy.

Libertus, M., Braham, E., & Liu, R. (2017). Infants discriminate number: Evidence against the prerequisite of visual object individuation and the primacy of continuous magnitude. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40.

Möhring, W., Liu, R., & Libertus, M. E. (2017). Infants’ speed discrimination: Effects of different ratios and spatial orientations. Infancy.

Libertus, M. E., Forsman, L., Adén, U., & Hellgren, K. (2017). Deficits in approximate number system acuity and mathematical abilities in 6.5-year-old children born extremely preterm. Frontiers in Psychology, 8 (1175).

Elliott, L., Braham, E. J., & Libertus, M. L. (2017). Understanding sources of individual variability in parents’ number talk with young children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 159, 1-15.

Pailian, H., Libertus, M., Feigenson, L., & Halberda, J. (2016). Developmental changes in visual short-term memory (VSTM) capacity between ages 3 and 8 years. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 78, 1556-1573.

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. 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.

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).

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.

Melissa Libertus is featured in the October 6 PittWire story “Psychology Researcher Wants to Figure Out How Adults and Children Learn Math.”

October 6, 2017

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The Discipline-Based Science Education Research Center (Db-SERC) awarded a Mentor-Mentee Award to Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Research Scientist, and Emily Braham, LRDC graduate student, for "Students in cognitive development learn to apply knowledge and communicate effectively through blog posts for parents."

August 16, 2017

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded one of only 19 grants given to cross-disciplinary teams across the United States to Melissa Libertus (P.I.), Associate Professor, Psychology, Marc Coutanche, Assistant Professor, Psychology, and Julie Fiez, Professor, Psychology, Neuroscience, CNBC and Communication Sciences and Disorders, to conduct innovative research on neural and cognitive systems.

August 8, 2017

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Principal Investigator Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Research Scientist, and co-PIs Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Assistant Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Center Associate and Heather Bachman were awarded an LRDC Internal Award for “How Low- and High-SES Parents Support Young Children’s Mathematical Thinking."

July 2017

Principal Investigator Jana Iverson and co-PIs Julie Fiez, Adjunct Faculty, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and LRDC Senior Scientist, Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Research Scientist, and Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Assistant Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Center Associate were awarded an APA grant for Summer Undergraduate Psychology Research Experience (SUPRE) in May 2017.

May 2017

Melissa Libertus, LRDC Research Scientist and Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC alum Roberta Golinkoff, Professor, Education, University of Delaware, have authored the HeraldNet article "Viewpoints: Improving students’ STEM scores begins at home."

January 15, 2017

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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"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

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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

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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

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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

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"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

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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

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Building Bridges Travel Award

June 2011

German Scholars Organization

Developmental Science Early Career Research Prize

2011