Nora Newcombe

Nora Newcombe
Temple University | TU · Department of Psychology

Ph.D., Harvard University

About

333
Publications
141,525
Reads
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17,293
Citations
Citations since 2017
105 Research Items
9672 Citations
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201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
Additional affiliations
January 2012 - present
January 2012 - present
January 2010 - present
University of Notre Dame

Publications

Publications (333)
Article
Young children have informal knowledge of fractions before learning about fraction symbols in school. In the current study, we followed 103 children in the Mid-Atlantic United States from the fall to the spring of first grade to characterize the development of individual differences in early informal fraction knowledge, as well as its relation to o...
Article
Full-text available
External representations powerfully support and augment complex human behavior. When navigating, people often consult external representations to help them find the way to go, but do maps or verbal instructions improve spatial knowledge or support effective wayfinding? Here, we examine spatial knowledge with and without external representations in...
Preprint
Young children have informal knowledge of fractions before learning about fraction symbols in school. In the current study, we followed 103 children in the Mid-Atlantic United States from the fall to the spring of first grade to characterize development of and individual differences in early informal fraction knowledge, as well as its relation to o...
Article
Children's beliefs about the contribution of effort and ability to success and failure shape their decisions to persist or give up on challenging tasks, with consequences for their academic success. But how do children learn about the concept of "challenge"? Prior work has shown that parents' verbal responses to success and failure shape children's...
Article
The ongoing stream of sensory experience is so complex and ever‐changing that we tend to parse this experience at “event boundaries,” which structures and strengthens memory. Memory processes undergo profound change across early childhood. Whether young children also divide their ongoing processing along event boundaries, and if those boundaries re...
Article
Spontaneous, volitional spatial exploration is crucial for building up a cognitive map of the environment. However, decades of research have primarily measured the fidelity of cognitive maps after discrete, controlled learning episodes. We know little about how cognitive maps are formed during naturalistic free exploration. Here, we investigated wh...
Article
Full-text available
There is strong evidence from research conducted in the United States that fraction magnitude understanding supports mathematics achievement. Unfortunately, there has been little research that examines if this relation is present across educational contexts with different approaches to teaching fractions. The current study compared fourth and sixth...
Poster
Full-text available
The idea that successful navigation depends on cognitive maps is controversial. One view is that the ability to generate detours and shortcuts demonstrates retention of direction and distance information integrated within a common frame of reference. Another view is that spatial representations are not Euclidean, given biases, distortions, and lack...
Preprint
External representations powerfully support and augment complex human behavior. When navigating, people often consult external representations to help them find the way to go, but do maps or verbal instructions improve spatial knowledge or support effective wayfinding? Here, we examine spatial knowledge with and without external representations in...
Article
Research on spatial navigation is essential to understanding how mobile species adapt to their environments. Such research increasingly uses virtual environments (VEs) because, although VE has drawbacks, it allows for standardization of procedures, precision in measuring behaviors, ease in introducing variation, and cross-investigator comparability...
Article
The aim of this issue is to take stock of cognitive science of human variation in the field of spatial navigation, an important domain in which debates have often assumed an invariant human mind. Addressing the challenge of individual differences requires cognitive scientists to change their practices in several ways. First, we need to consider how...
Preprint
Research on spatial navigation is essential to understanding how mobile species adapt to their environments. Such research increasingly uses virtual environments (VEs) because, although VE has drawbacks, it allows for standardization of procedures, precision in measuring behaviors, ease in introducing variation, and cross-investigator comparability...
Preprint
The ongoing stream of sensory experience is so complex and ever-changing that we tend to parse this experience at “event boundaries”, which structures and strengthens memory. Memory processes undergo profound change across early childhood. Whether young children also divide their ongoing processing along event boundaries, and if those boundaries re...
Article
Full-text available
Relying on shared tasks and stimuli to conduct research can enhance the replicability of findings and allow a community of researchers to collect large data sets across multiple experiments. This approach is particularly relevant for experiments in spatial navigation, which often require the development of unfamiliar large-scale virtual environment...
Article
The ability to detect differences among similar events in our lives is a crucial aspect of successful episodic memory performance, which develops across early childhood. The neural substrate of this ability is supported by operations in the medial temporal lobe (MTL). Here, we used representational similarity analysis (RSA) to measure neural patter...
Article
Navigation waxes and wanes in precision and flexibility over the life span. However, at no age is it completely egocentric or allocentric, or completely nonmetric. Instead, we see steady changes in the balance of strategies and the extent to which relevant information is combined in an adaptive way. Many of these changes may be related to underlyin...
Article
Despite some gains, women continue to be underrepresented in many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Using a national longitudinal dataset of 690 participants born in 1991, we tested whether spatial skills, measured in middle childhood, would help explain this gender gap. We modeled the relation between 4th‐grade spatial skil...
Article
Cross-sectional studies have suggested that the ability to form cognitive maps increases throughout childhood and reaches adult levels during early adolescence. However, adults show large individual differences in their ability to relate local routes to form a global map. Children also vary, but when does variation stabilize? We asked participants...
Article
Parents provide motivational and cognitive support within the same interaction, yet researchers have investigated these separately. We examined two key aspects of parental support, praise (motivational support) and spatial language (cognitive support), from fathers and mothers during three tasks with their first-grade children (6-7-year-olds; N = 1...
Preprint
Cumulative science hinges on consolidating empirical evidence. However, both narrative reviews and meta-analyses often restrict integration by using construct labels in searches, which vary greatly across traditions and eras in psychology. An alternative is the mapping review, more common in other disciplines, which focuses on operational definitio...
Article
Both sketching and self‐explanation are widely believed to be effective for problem‐solving in science learning. However, it is unclear which aspects of these strategies promote learning and how they might interact. Compared to a read‐only baseline, we examined the impact of instructing 11‐year‐old students to solve science problems to sketch, self...
Preprint
Spontaneous, volitional spatial exploration is crucial for building up a cognitive map of the environment. However, decades of research have primarily measured the fidelity of cognitive maps after discrete, controlled learning episodes. We know little about how cognitive maps are formed during naturalistic free exploration. Here, we investigated wh...
Preprint
Over the past five decades, there has been a tremendous effort to better understand the nature of memory in infancy and early childhood. These findings are beginning to address the puzzle of how it is possible to build an impressive semantic memory during periods of development when episodic memories for events are unlikely to be retained (infantil...
Article
Memorializes Jerome Kagan (1929-2021). Jerome Kagan was born on February 25, 1929, in Newark, NJ. Jerry's initial search for stable constructs focused on the cognitive. In articles in the 1960s, he examined the extent to which children formed analytic concepts, and whether they acted reflectively or impulsively. Jerry published the Matching Familia...
Article
Research on spatial thinking requires reliable and valid measures of individual differences in various component skills. Spatial perspective taking (PT)—the ability to represent viewpoints different from one's own—is one kind of spatial skill that is especially relevant to navigation. This study had two goals. First, the psychometric properties of...
Article
Full-text available
Background One criterion of adaptive learning is appropriate generalization to new instances based on the original learning context and avoiding overgeneralization. Appropriate generalization requires understanding what features of a solution are applicable in a new context and whether the new context requires modifications or a new approach. In a...
Article
Full-text available
Episodic memory binds together diverse elements of an event into a cohesive unit. This property enables the reconstruction of multidimensional experiences when triggered by a cue related to a past event via pattern completion processes. Such holistic retrieval is evident in young adults, as shown by dependency in the retrieval success for different...
Preprint
Relying on shared tasks and stimuli to conduct research can enhance the replicability of findings and allow a community of researchers to collect large data sets across multiple experiments. This approach is particularly relevant for experiments in spatial navigation, which often require the development of unfamiliar large-scale virtual environment...
Article
Full-text available
The topography of the land provides a suite of spatial information for navigation. In an outdoor field experiment, we examined terrain slant as a nonvisual cue. Without being told which cue to use, blindfolded, sighted participants completed a place-learning task in a flat and a slanted site. Errors were significantly smaller in the slanted site. F...
Article
Semantic memory-general knowledge of ideas and concepts-includes generalization processes that support inference. Episodic memory, on the other hand, preserves the specificity of individual events by binding together unique combinations of elements from an episode and relies on pattern separation to distinguish similar experiences. These two memory...
Article
Episodic memories typically share overlapping elements in distinctive combinations, and to be valuable for future behavior they need to withstand delays. There is relatively little work on whether children have special difficulty with overlap or withstanding delay. However, Yim, Dennis, and Sloutsky (Psychological Science, 2013, Vol. 24, pp. 2163–2...
Article
Full-text available
The formation of memories that contain information about the specific time and place of acquisition, which are commonly referred to as "autobiographical" or "episodic" memories, critically relies on the hippocampus and on a series of interconnected structures located in the medial temporal lobe of the mammalian brain. The observation that adults re...
Article
In this review, I summarize what we know about the development of sex‐related differences in spatial skills, their potential malleability, and their possible causes. Current evidence suggests that sex differences increase in size with age, at least for skills with assessments suitable for use across development. However, male advantages vary from n...
Preprint
Full-text available
Episodic memories typically share overlapping elements in distinctive combinations, and, to be valuable for future behavior, they need to withstand delays. There is relatively little work on whether children have special difficulty with overlap or withstanding delay. However, Yim, Dennis, and Sloutsky (2013) suggested that extensive overlap is more...
Preprint
Full-text available
Popular computational models of memory have posited that the formation of new semantic knowledge relies on generalization from memories of specific but related episodes, at least when it occurs rapidly. This view predicts a contingency between new generalizations and episodic memory. However, very young children readily accumulate semantic knowledg...
Article
Humans and animals use mental representations of the spatial structure of the world to navigate. The classical view is that these representations take the form of Euclidean cognitive maps, but alternative theories suggest that they are cognitive graphs consisting of locations connected by paths. We review evidence suggesting that both map-like and...
Article
Full-text available
Although immersive virtual reality is attractive to users, we know relatively little about whether higher immersion levels increase or decrease spatial learning outcomes. In addition, questions remain about how different approaches to travel within a virtual environment affect spatial learning. In this paper, we investigated the role of immersion (...
Preprint
The medial temporal lobe (MTL) undergoes critical developmental change throughout childhood, which aligns with developmental changes in episodic memory. We used representational similarity analysis to compare neural pattern similarity for children and adults in hippocampus and parahippocampal cortex during naturalistic viewing of clips from the sam...
Article
Full-text available
Episodic memory capacity requires several processes, including mnemonic discrimination of similar experiences, termed pattern separation, and holistic retrieval of multidimensional experiences given a cue, termed pattern completion. Both computations seem to rely on the hippocampus proper, but they also seem to be instantiated by distinct hippocamp...
Preprint
Full-text available
Episodic memory binds together diverse elements of an event into a cohesive unit. This property enables the reconstruction of multidimensional experiences when triggered by a cue related to a past event via pattern completion processes. Such holistic retrieval is evident in young adults, as shown by dependency in the retrieval success for different...
Preprint
Episodic memory consists of distinctive experiences, with specific spatiotemporal information about what happened maintained over time. These memories typically share overlapping elements in distinctive combinations. In this study, we evaluated: (1) whether overlapping elements pose a differential challenge for younger children; and (2) whether a s...
Article
Both scientists and the general public want to know whether basic cognitive abilities can improve with dedicated behavioral training. This would have many practical implications, including possible increases in academic achievement. The current brief review of behavioral approaches to cognitive enhancement focuses on the cognitive abilities most pr...
Book
This book constitutes the thoroughly refereed proceedings of the 12th International Conference, Spatial Cognition 2020, held in Riga, Latvia, in September 2020. The physical event was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 19 full papers and 6 short papers presented in this book were carefully selected and reviewed from 50 submissions....
Article
Proportional judgments are easier for children in continuous formats rather than discretized ones (e.g., liquid in a beaker vs. in a beaker with unit markings). Continuous formats tap a basic sense of approximation magnitude, whereas discretized formats evoke erroneous counting strategies. On this account, truly discrete formats with separated obje...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Background Research examining the relation between spatial skills and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields has focused on small-scale spatial skills, even though some STEM disciplines—particularly the geography and geoscience (GEO) fields—involve large-scale spatial thinking at the core of their professional t...
Preprint
Episodic memory requires several processes, including mnemonic discrimination of similar experiences, termed pattern separation, and holistic retrieval of multidimensional experiences given a cue, termed pattern completion. Both computations seem to rely on the hippocampus proper, but they also seem to be instantiated by distinct intrahippocampal s...
Article
Full-text available
Episodic memory relies on discriminating among similar elements of episodes. Mnemonic discrimination is relatively poor at age 4, and then improves markedly. We investigated whether motivation to encode items with fine‐grain resolution would change this picture of development, using an engaging computer‐administered memory task in which a bird ate...
Article
Full-text available
Episodic memory binds together the diverse elements of an event into a coherent representation. This property allows for the reconstruction of multidimensional experiences when triggered by a cue related to a past event—a process of pattern completion. Such holistic recollection is evident in young adults, as shown by dependency in the retrieval su...
Article
There are inconsistent reports regarding behavioral sex differences in the human navigation literature. This meta-analysis quantifies the overall magnitude of sex differences in large-scale navigation skills in a variety of paradigms and populations, and examines potential moderators, using 694 effect sizes from 266 studies and a multilevel analyti...
Article
Full-text available
Our capacity to form and retrieve episodic memories improves over childhood but declines in old age. Understanding these changes requires decomposing episodic memory into its components. Two such components are (a) mnemonic discrimination of similar people, objects, and contexts, and (b) relational binding of these elements. We designed novel memor...
Article
Full-text available
There is substantial interest in the possibility that cognitive skills can be improved by dedicated behavioral training. Yet despite the large amount of work being conducted in this domain, there is not an explicit and widely agreed upon consensus around the best methodological practices. This document seeks to fill this gap. We start from the pers...
Article
As babies rapidly acquire motor skills that give them increasingly independent and wide-ranging access to the environment over the first two years of human life, they decrease their reliance on habit systems for spatial localization, switching to their emerging inertial navigation system and to allocentric frameworks. Initial place learning is evid...
Article
Work with non-human animals and human navigation experts (London taxi drivers) suggests that the size of the hippocampus, particularly the right posterior hippocampus in humans, relates to navigation expertise. Similar observations, sometimes implicating other sections of the hippocampus, have been made for aging populations and for people with neu...
Article
The Cambridge Handbook of Cognition and Education - edited by John Dunlosky February 2019
Article
Full-text available
Cambridge Core - Cognition - The Cambridge Handbook of Cognition and Education - edited by John Dunlosky
Preprint
Episodic memory binds together the diverse elements of an event into a coherent representation. This property allows for the reconstruction of multidimensional experiences when triggered by a cue related to a past event—a process of pattern completion. Such holistic recollection is evident in young adults, as shown by dependency in the retrieval su...
Article
There is substantial interest in the possibility that cognitive skills can be improved by dedicated behavioral training. Yet despite the large amount of work being conducted in this domain, there is not an explicit and widely agreed upon consensus around the best methodological practices. This document seeks to fill this gap. We start from the pers...
Chapter
Full-text available
Most topics beyond basic arithmetic require relative magnitude reasoning. This chapter describes the link between relative magnitude reasoning and spatial scaling, a specific type of spatial thinking. We discuss use of the number line, proportional reasoning, and fractions. Consideration of the relational reasoning involved in mathematics can advan...
Preprint
Full-text available
Research examining the STEM-spatial skill relation, has focused on small-scale spatial skills, even though some STEM disciplines – particularly the geography and geoscience fields (GEO) – involve large-scale spatial thinking at the core of their professional training. In Study 1, we compared large-scale navigation skills of experienced geologists w...
Article
Full-text available
SCIENTIFIC Teachers’ skills and attitudes in a specific domain can influence students’ learning in that domain. Here we focused on spatial skills, which are important for learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Fostering students’ spatial skills may rely on teachers’ comfort in implementing spatially demanding activiti...
Preprint
Episodic memory relies on discriminating among similar elements of episodes. Mnemonic discrimination is relatively poor at age 4, and then improves markedly. We investigated whether motivation to encode items with fine grain resolution would change this picture of development, using an engaging computer-administered memory task in which a bird ate...
Preprint
Full-text available
Work with non-human animals and human navigation experts (London taxi drivers) suggests that the size of the hippocampus, particularly the right posterior hippocampus in humans, relates to navigation expertise. Similar observations, sometimes implicating other sections of the hippocampus, have been made for aging populations and for people with neu...
Article
The ability to keep similar experiences separate in memory is critical for forming unique and lasting memories, as many events share overlapping features (e.g., birthday parties, holidays). Research on memory in young children suggests their memories often lack high-resolution details, i.e., show impoverished pattern separation (PS). Recently devel...
Article
The cognitive map view of navigation posits that humans and other species represent space in a format that encodes the distances and directions among locations in relation to external reference frames such as boundaries and landmarks. Such an allocentric representation is combined with egocentric representations that track a navigator's position ov...
Article
Full-text available
There are several models of the use of geometric and feature cues in reorientation (Cheng, Huttenlocher & Newcombe, 2013). The adaptive combination approach posits that people integrate cues with weights that depend on cue salience and learning, or, when discrepancies are large, choose between cues based on these variables (Cheng, Shettleworth,...
Article
The proposal that humans can develop cognitive maps of their environment has a long and controversial history. We suggest an individual-differences approach to this question instead of a normative one. Specifically, there is evidence that some people derive flexible maplike representations from information acquired during navigation, whereas others...
Article
During early ontogeny, the rapid and cumulative acquisition of world knowledge contrasts with slower improvements in the ability to lay down detailed and long-lasting episodic memories. This emphasis on generalization at the expense of specificity persists well into middle childhood and possibly into adolescence. During this period, recognizing reg...
Article
Recalling a spatial layout from multiple orientations – spatial flexibility – is challenging, even when the global configuration can be viewed from a single vantage point, but more so when it must be viewed piecemeal. In the current study, we examined whether experiencing the transition between multiple viewpoints enhances spatial memory and flexib...
Preprint
Our capacity to form and retrieve episodic memories improves over childhood but declines in old age. Understanding these changes requires decomposing episodic memory into its components: (1) mnemonic discrimination of similar people, objects and contexts, and (2) relational binding of these components. We designed novel memory tasks to assess these...
Article
Geometric forms have formal definitions. While knowing shape names is considered important for school-readiness, many children do not understand the defining features of shapes until well into elementary school (Satlow & Newcombe, 1998). One reason is likely that they do not encounter enough variety in the shapes they see (Resnick, Verdine, Golinko...
Article
Four principles of cognitive science were used to make systematic revisions in middle school science instructional modules from two kinds of curriculum: one popular textbook series and one popular hands-on series (two modules each). Schools were randomly assigned to 1 of the 3 arms (cognitive science modifications with professional development, act...
Article
Developmental research beginning in the 1970s has suggested that children's ability to form cognitive maps reaches adult levels during early adolescence. However, this research has used a variety of testing procedures, often in real-world environments, which have been difficult to share widely across labs and to use to probe components of mapping,...
Article
Full-text available
The present study investigated the role of spatial scaling and proportional-reasoning skills in children’s number-line estimations. Proportional strategies in number-line estimations might suggest that correlations between number-line knowledge and scaling are driven by proportional thinking. However, analyses of data on spatial scaling, proportion...
Chapter
Spatial cognition is often (but wrongly) conceptualized as a single domain of cognition. However, humans function in more than one way in the spatial world. We navigate, as do all mobile animals, but we also manipulate objects using distinctive hands with opposable thumbs, unlike other species. In fact, an important characteristic of human adaptati...
Article
Even infants can recognize physically impossible patterns of motion, seem to expect correct trajectories, and as they develop motor skills, move as necessary to achieve a goal. Yet in adulthood, the majority of people perform poorly when asked to make explicit predictions about motion in the same problems, and are influenced by irrelevant surface f...
Chapter
A multitude of factors affect mathematics learning: motivation, anxiety, gender stereotypes, working memory, teacher practices, teacher knowledge, and many more. Recently, spatial thinking has emerged as one of these factors. This conclusion was based initially on concurrent correlations but is now also supported by longitudinal studies with contro...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding and reasoning about phenomena at scales outside human perception (for example, geologic time) is critical across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Thus, devising strong methods to support acquisition of reasoning at such scales is an important goal in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. In two...
Article
Full-text available
Embodied learning approaches emphasize the use of action to support pedagogical goals. A specific version of embodied learning posits an action-to-abstraction transition supported by gesture, sketching, and analogical mapping. These tools seem to have special promise for bolstering learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM...