Psychology Faculty

Nameera Akhtar
  • Title
    • Professor
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Psychology Department
  • Phone
    831-459-5680
  • Email
  • Office Location
    • Social Sciences 2, 313
  • Office Hours Tuesday 1:30- 2:30pm on zoom: Meeting ID: 934 6581 6811 (passcode: 9x860n) (Fall 2020)
  • Mail Stop Psychology Faculty Services
  • Courses Psych 10: Introduction to Developmental Psychology, Psych 104: Development in Infancy, Psych 244A: Cognitive and Language Development

Summary of Expertise

Cognitive and social cognitive processes in early language development, infants' social understanding.

Research Interests

Nameera Akhtar's research interests are in early cognitive and language development; in particular, how social and cognitive developments play a role in young children's understanding and use of language. Infants' and toddlers' social-cognitive understanding , and their motivation to connect with others, are assumed to be fundamental to language development.

One way in which the importance of social-cognitive factors is investigated is by examining how young children use their social understanding in early word learning, even in situations in which they are not even being addressed. Using experimental techniques in semi-natural interaction contexts, we study what and how children learn from third-party interactions. These studies show that young toddlers are very motivated to understand what others are saying and doing and that they attend strategically to others' interactions.

Biography, Education and Training

B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Dalhousie University

Selected Publications

  • Akhtar, N., & Jaswal, V. K. (2020). Stretching the social: Broadening the behavioral indicators of sociality. Child Development Perspectives, 14(1), 28-33. 

  • Jaswal, V. K., & Akhtar, N. (2019a). Being versus appearing socially interested: Challenging assumptions about social motivation in autism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 42, e82: 1-73.

  • Jaswal, V. K., & Akhtar, N. (2019b). Supporting autistic flourishing. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

  • Lewin, N., & Akhtar, N. (2020). Neurodiversity and deficit perspectives in The Washington Post’s coverage of autism. Disability & Society