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Maria D Sera

Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Inst Of Child Dev
208C Ch Dev

51 E River Rd

Cognitive and linguistic development.

Language and Cognitive Development Laboratory

My research focuses on language learning and its relation to cognitive development. Current projects focus on the role of language in spatial cognition and categorization, and on the learning of second languages by children and adults.

Selected Publications

  1. Prager, E. O., Sera, M.D. & Carlson, S. M. (2016) Executive function and magnitude skills in preschool children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 147, 126-139.

    Scott, N., Leuthod, A., Sera, M., & Georgopolous,  A.P. (2016) Differential Neural Activity Patterns for Spatial Relations in Humans: A MEG Study. Experimental Brain Research, 234 (2) 429-441.

    Mazzocco, M., Chan, J. Y. and Sera, M.D. (2016) Contextual sensitivity and the large number word bias: When is bigger really more? In A. Henik (Ed.) Continuous issues in numerical cognition: How many or how much? Elsevier, 81-103.


  2. Kurinski, E., Jambor, E., & Sera, M.D. (2016). Spanish grammatical gender: Its effects on categorization in native Hungarian speakers. International Journal of Bilingualism, Vol. 20, (1), 76-93.

    Sera, M. D.,  Maratsos, M. & Carlson, S. (forthcoming).  Co–editor of Culture and Developmental Systems. Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology, Volume 38.

    Scott, N. Sera, M.D. & Georgopoulos, A. (2015). An information theory analysis of spatial decisions in cognitive development, Frontiers in Neuroscience, DOI: 0.3389/fnins.2015.00014.


  3. Sera, M. D., Cole, C., Oromendia, M. & Koenig, M. (2014). Object familiarity facilitates foreign word learning in preschoolers.  Language Learning and Development, Vol. 10, Issue 2. 129-148.

  4. Sera, M.D., Johnson, K., & Kuo, J. (2013). Classifiers augment and maintain shape-based categorization in Mandarin speakers. Language and Cognition 4 (1), 1-24 .

  5. Zelazo, P. & Sera, M. D. (Eds.) (2013). Developing Cognitive Control Processes: Mechanisms, Implications, and Interventions:  Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology (Vol. 37). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

  6. Sera, M. D. & Millet, K. G. (2011) Developmental differences in shape processing. Cognitive Development, 26 (1), 40-56.

  7. Kurisnki, E. & Sera, M. D. (2011) Does learning Spanish grammatical gender change English adults’ concepts of inanimate objects? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14 (2)203-220.

  8. Sera, M., & Goodrich, W. (2010) Who thinks that a piece of furniture refers to a broken couch? Count-mass constructions and individuation in English and Spanish. Journal of Cognitive Linguistics, 21 (3)419-442.

  9. Kuo, Y., & Sera, M. (2009) Classifier effects on human categorization: the role of shape classifiers in Mandarin Chinese. Journal of East Asian Linguistics, Volume 18, Number 1, pp. 1-19.,

  10. Sera, M., & Millett, K. (2008). The acquisition of English by Spanish-Speaking preschoolers. Paper presented at the 25th International Conference of English Teaching and Learning: 2008 International Conference on English Instruction and Assessment.

  11. Martin, A. J. & Sera, M. D. (2006) The acquisition of spatial constructions in ASL and English. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, Volume 11, Number 4, pp 391-402.

  12. Sera, M., Elieff, C., Forbes, J., Burch, M. Rodríguez, W., Poulin-Dubois, D. (2002) When language affects cognition and when it does not: An analysis of grammatical gender and classification. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 131(3), 377-397.

  13. Manning, C., Sera, M., & Pick, H.(2002). Understanding how we talk about space: An examination of the meaning of English spatial prepositions. In K.R. Coventry and P. Oliver (Ed.) Spatial Language: Cognitive and Computational Perspectives, pp. 147-164. Dordrecht, NL: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

  14. Abecassis, M., Sera, M., Yonas, A., & Schwade, J. (2001) What’s in a shape? Children represent shape variability differently than adults when naming objects. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 78, pp. 213–239.