Dedre Gentner (Co-PI)

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Northwestern University

gentner [at] northwestern [dot] edu


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SILC Faculty Member and member of our Spatial Network.

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Principal Investigator, Project on Children's Thinking

Biographical Sketch: Dedre Gentner, Ph.D.


Professional Preparation:

Undergraduate Institution:     University of California, Berkeley, Physics, B.A. 1967

Graduate Institution:              University of Chicago, Social Science, 1967-1968

Graduate Institution:              University of California, San Diego, Psychology, Ph.D., 1974




2007-present   Alice Gabrielle Twight Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University

2006-present   Co-Director of Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center

1992-2007       Cognitive Science Program Director, Northwestern University

1999-2000       Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford CA

1989-1990       Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

1984-1989       Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

1977-1982       Scientist, Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc

1974-1977       Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Washington

1968-1970       Teacher, Achimota Preparatory School, Achimota, Ghana



5 Publications Most Closely Related to the Current Proposal

  1. 1)Christie, S. & Gentner, D. (in press). Where hypotheses come from:  Learning new relations by structuralJournal of Cognition and Development.
  2. 2)Loewenstein, J., & Gentner, D. (2005). Relational language and the development of relational mapping. Cognitive Psychology, 50, 315-353.
  3. 3)Feist, M. I., & Gentner, D. (2007). Spatial language influences memory for spatial scenes. Memory and Cognition, 35. 283-296.
  4. 4)Loewenstein, J., & Gentner, D. (2001). Spatial mapping in preschoolers: Close comparisons facilitate far mappings. Journal of Cognition and Development, 2(2), 189-219.
  5. 5)Gentner, D., Loewenstein, J., & Hung, B. (2007). Comparison facilitates children's learning of names for parts. Journal of Cognition and Development, 8. 285-307.

5 Other Significant Publications

  1. 1)Gentner, D. (in press). Bootstrapping children’s learning: Analogical processes and symbol systems. To appear in Cognitive Science.
  2. 2)Gentner, D. & Christie, S. (2008). Relational language supports relational cognition in humans and apes: A response to Penn, Holyoak & Povinelli. Behaviorial and Brain Sciences, 31. 137-183.
  3. 3)Gentner, D. (1983). Structure-mapping: A theoretical framework for analogy. Cognitive Science, 7, 155-170.
  4. 4)Gentner, D. (2003). Why we’re so smart. In D. Gentner and S. Goldin-Meadow (Eds.), Language in mind: Advances in the study of language and thought (pp.195-235). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  5. 5)Markman, A. B., & Gentner, D. (1993). Structural alignment during similarity comparisons. Cognitive Psychology, 25, 431-467.


Publications can be found at


Synergistic Activities:

  • Development of analogical encoding techniques as a new method of instruction that multiplies the value of case-based training. Our research shows that techniques in which learners are encouraged to compare and align two analogous lead to better transfer, better retrieval of past relevant experiences, and better ability to notice relevant differences than learning on a case-by-case basis.
  • The two recently coedited books – The analogical mind (2001) and Language in mind (2003) – are having an impact on the field of cognition and learning.
  • Selected honors & awards: Fellow of the Center for the Study of the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, 1999-2000; member of the Inaugural Set of Fellows of the Cognitive Science Society; Alice Gabrielle Twight Chair 2007


Collaborators and Other Affiliations:

Collaborators and Co-editors who are not part of SILC:

Florencia Anggoro, Georgia State University; Galen Bodenhausen, Northwestern University; Brian Bowdle, Grand Valley State University; Josep Call, Max Planck Institute - Leipzig; Ronald Ferguson, Georgia Institute of Technology; Michele Feist, University of Louisiana - Lafayette; Kim Kastens, Columbia University; Sven Kuehne, The Hague - Netherlands; Kenneth Kurtz, Binghamton University; Julie Libarkin, Michigan State University; Jeffrey Loewenstein, University of Texas -Austin; Arthur Markman, University of Texas-Austin; Laura Namy, Emory University; Asli Osyurek, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistic Research; Şeyda Özçalışkan, Georgia State University; Duncan Sibley, Michigan State University; Leigh Thompson, Northwestern University; Phillip Wolff, Emory University.


Graduate and Post-doctoral Advisors:

Donald Norman, Northwestern University; David Rumelhart, Stanford University.


Thesis Advisor and Postgraduate-Scholar Sponsor (Total 22 Students Advised):

Current Ph.D Students: Stella Christie, Julie Colhoun, Nina Simms.

Current Postdoctoral students: Micah Goldwater, Benjamin Jee.

Former Students: Brian Bowdle, Grand Valley State University; Sarah Brem, Arizona State University; Catherine Clement, Eastern Kentucky State University; Samuel Day, Postdoctoral Fellow, Indiana University; Ron Ferguson, Georgia Institute of Technology; Michele Feist, University of Louisiana - Lafayette; Rob Goldstone, Indiana University; Mutsumi Imai, Keio University; Jason Jameson, Navy Research Lab, San Diego; Kenneth Kurtz, Binghamton University; Jeffrey Loewenstein, University of Texas -Austin; Joyce Ma, Exploratorium; Arthur Markman, University of Texas -Austin; Jose Medina, Vanderbilt University; Seyda Ozcaliskan, Georgia State University; Phillip Wolff, Emory University.

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