Areas of specialism

Cognitive Development; Open Science

My qualifications

PhD in Psychology
Lancaster University
MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience (Distinction)
Aston University
BSc in Psychology with Professional Placement (2:1)
Aston University

Previous roles

2019 - 2019
Research Assistant
Lancaster University
2013 - 2016
Lab Manager
University of Warwick
2013 - 2014
Research Assistant
Aston University

My publications


Silverstein Priya, Westermann Gert, Parise Eugenio, Twomey Katherine (2019) New evidence for learning-based accounts of gaze following: Testing a robotic prediction,Proceedings 2019 Joint IEEE 9th International Conference on Development and Learning and Epigenetic Robotics (ICDL-EpiRob) pp. pp 302-306 IEEE
Gaze following is an early-emerging skill in
infancy argued to be fundamental to joint attention and later
language. However, how gaze following emerges has been a topic
of great debate. The most widely-accepted developmental theories
suggest that infants are able to gaze follow only by understanding
shared attention. Another group of theories suggests that infants
may learn to follow gaze based on low-level social reinforcement.
Nagai et al. [Advanced Robotics, 20, 10 (2006)] successfully taught
a robot to gaze follow purely through social reinforcement, and
found that the robot learned to follow gaze in the horizontal plane
before it learned to follow gaze in the vertical plane. In the current
study, we tested whether 12-month-old infants were also better at
gaze following in the horizontal than the vertical plane. This
prediction does not follow from the predominant developmental
theories, which have no reason to assume differences between
infants? ability to follow gaze in the two planes. We found that
infants had higher accuracy when following gaze in the horizontal
than the vertical plane (p = .01). These results confirm a core
prediction of the robot model, suggesting that children may also
learn to gaze follow through reinforcement learning. This study
was pre-registered, and all data, code, and materials are openly
available on the Open Science Framework (
Silverstein Priya, Gliga Teodora, Westermann Gert, Parise Eugenio (2019) Probing communication-induced memory biases in preverbal infants: Two replication attempts of Yoon, Johnson and Csibra (2008),Infant Behavior and Development 55 pp. 77-87 Elsevier Ltd
In a seminal study, Yoon, Johnson and Csibra [PNAS, 105, 36 (2008)] showed that nine-month old
infants retained qualitatively different information about novel objects in communicative and
non-communicative contexts. In a communicative context, the infants encoded the identity of
novel objects at the expense of encoding their location, which was preferentially retained in noncommunicative
contexts. This result had not yet been replicated. Here we attempted two replications,
while also including a measure of eye-tracking to obtain more detail of infants? attention
allocation during stimulus presentation. Experiment 1 was designed following the
methods described in the original paper. After discussion with one of the original authors, some
key changes were made to the methodology in Experiment 2. Neither experiment replicated the
results of the original study, with Bayes Factor Analysis suggesting moderate support for the null
hypothesis. Both experiments found differential attention allocation in communicative and noncommunicative
contexts, with more looking to the face in communicative than non-communicative
contexts, and more looking to the hand in non-communicative than communicative
contexts. High and low level accounts of these attentional differences are discussed.
Bazhydai Marina, Silverstein Priya, Parise Eugenio, Westermann Gert (2020) Two-year-old children preferentially transmit simple actions but not pedagogically demonstrated actions,Developmental Science Wiley
Children are sensitive to both social and non-social aspects of the learning environment.
Among social cues, pedagogical communication has been shown to not only play a role in children's learning, but also in their own active transmission of knowledge.
Vredenburgh, Kushnir and Casasola, Developmental Science, 2015, 18, 645 showed that 2-year-olds are more likely to demonstrate an action to a naive adult
after learning it in a pedagogical than in a non-pedagogical context. This finding was
interpreted as evidence that pedagogically transmitted information has a special status
as culturally relevant. Here we test the limits of this claim by setting it in contrast
with an explanation in which the relevance of information is the outcome of multiple
interacting social (e.g., pedagogical demonstration) and non-social properties (e.g.,
action complexity). To test these competing hypotheses, we varied both pedagogical
cues and action complexity in an information transmission paradigm with 2-year-old
children. In Experiment 1, children preferentially transmitted simple non-pedagogically
demonstrated actions over pedagogically demonstrated more complex actions.
In Experiment 2, when both actions were matched for complexity, we found no evidence
of preferential transmission of pedagogically demonstrated actions. We discuss
possible reasons for the discrepancy between our results and previous literature
showing an effect of pedagogical cues on cultural transmission, and conclude that
our results are compatible with the view that pedagogical and other cues interact, but
incompatible with the theory of a privileged role for pedagogical cues.