Caren Walker

Professional Bio 

Caren Walker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Walker received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California Berkeley in 2015. Dr. Walker’s primary emphasis is in the area of cognitive development, examining the various learning mechanisms that underlie knowledge acquisition and change. This work addresses basic questions about the nature of mental representations in human cognition, and she has authored a variety of publications on the early development of abstract reasoning. Her research carries far-reaching theoretical implications for developmental and cognitive sciences, as well as practical implications for education and artificial intelligence.

Area of Expertise 

My research explores how children learn and reason about the causal structure of the world. In particular, I am interested in how even very young learners are able to acquire abstract representations that extend beyond their observations, simply by thinking. How is “learning by thinking” possible? What does this phenomenon tell us about the nature of early mental representations and how they change? To begin to answer these questions, my work has focused on a suite of activities that impose top-down constraints on human inference, focusing on phenomena that are characteristic of learning in early childhood. My current research includes learning by analogy, by explanation, and by engagement in imaginary worlds. My approach is interdisciplinary, combining perspectives in psychology, philosophy, education, and computational theory.

Workshop Locations 
Institutional Affiliation 
Professional Title 
Assistant Professor