Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology

Elizabeth Wakefield

Title: Assistant Professor
Program: Developmental and Neuroscience
Office: 239 Coffey Hall 
Phone: 773-508-3363

Background Information
Post-Doc: University of Chicago
Ph.D.:  Indiana University
B.A.:  Kalamazoo College
Classes Taught
PSYC 202 Introduction to Neuroscience
PSYC 273 Developmental Psychology
PSYC 398 Psychology of Music
Research Interests
My research program focuses on how the actions we produce and observe every day have the power to help us learn and change the way we think. In particular, I examine two distinct, yet related, types of actions we make with our hands: Concrete actions, which are used to directly manipulate our environment, and gestures, which often accompany our speech, and help us represent and manipulate ideas. Employing behavioral, eye tracking and neuroimaging methods, my research team explores how these forms of movement affect cognitive development from early childhood to adulthood. My research touches on many domains, including language, music, and, mathematics, but has three common goals. These are: (1) to understand how we process and interpret the meaning of gesture and action, (2) to determine how these forms of movement have similar and distinct impacts on how we learn, and (3) to explore the mechanisms that drive these cognitive effects.
How children and adults learn, generalize and retain information learned through action and gesture; how this differs based on an individual’s ability to interpret movement as meaningful; how this differs based on whether action and gesture are performed by a learner or teacher.
Recent Publications
Wakefield, E. M., Novack, M. A., Congdon, E. L., Franconeri, S., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2018). Gesture helps learners learn, but not merely by guiding their visual attention. Developmental Science.

Wakefield, E. M., Hall, C., James, K. H., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2018). Gesture for generalization: Gesture facilitates flexible learning of words for actions on objects. Developmental Science

Wakefield, E. M., Novack, M. A., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (in press). Unpacking the ontogeny of gesture understanding: How movement becomes meaningful across development. Child Development.
Tan, S. L., Spackman, M., & Wakefield, E. M. (2017). Effects of diegetic and nondiegetic music on viewers’ interpretations of film. Music Perception, 34, 605-623.
Novack, M., Wakefield, E. M., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2016). What makes a movement a gesture? Cognition, 146, 339-348.
Wakefield, E. M. & James, K. H. (2015). Effects of learning with gesture on children’s understanding of a new language concept. Developmental Psychology, 51, 1105-1114.
Church, R. B., Kelly, S. D., & Wakefield, E. M. (2015). Measuring Gesture. In D. Matsumoto, H. C. Hwang, & M. G. Frank (Eds.), APA Handbook of Non-Verbal Communication.
Wakefield, E. M., James, T. W., & James, K. H. (2013). Neural correlates of gesture processing across human development. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 30, 58-76.