Dr. Cheries runs the Infant Cognition Laboratory at UMass, which conducts studies to examine what our concepts are like in the first year of life, prior to the influence of language, culture, and formal education. His research currently concentrates on three main aspects of early knowledge:
1. Infants' understanding of objects (e.g., Do infants have simple intuitions about how objects behave and interact? And how might these cognitive "rules" support the ability to identify and track objects over time?).
2. Infants' understanding of other people (e.g., When and how are infants able to infer people's intentions, goals, and dispositions? To what extent do these capabilities rely upon different cognitive processes than tracking nonliving entities?).
3. How might the cognitive processes described constitute the core of our concepts of number, causality, and our moral intuitions.
In order to better understand the nature of these processes, ongoing projects identify the boundaries of infants' understanding in each of these domains in close comparison to the signature limitations that have been revealed in studies of adult cognition (particularly through work on visual cognition and attention) and studies of nonhuman primates.