Adele A. Abrahamsen

Center for Research in Language
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, 0526
La Jolla, CA 92093-0526
Email: adele AT

Click here for publications by date--including recent PDFs
Click here for publications by topic--update under construction

Who I am
Where I've Studied
Who's Supported my Work
Where I've Worked
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Adele Abrahamsen: Profile

As a cognitive scientist, my work has core concerns -- those aspects of cognition that most intrigue me -- but I come at those concerns from a variety of directions. What intrigues me is the onset and trajectory into adulthood of language and its well-orchestrated interactions with other cognitive capacities. My conceptual and research tools have come primarily from psychology but also from linguistics and from some specific, interdisciplinary research areas. This has led me to reflect on disciplines themselves and the routes to explanation they offer, resulting in a few early publications in philosophy of science and more sustained recent work.

Specifically, since moving in 2002-3 to the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), I have been collaborating with William Bechtel on the new mechanistic philosophy of science that he pioneered in a 1993 book with Robert Richardson (reissued in 2010). Like most of the new mechanists we have focused primarily on cases in biology--e.g., chronobiology, cell biology, and cognitive neuroscience--but I have had a particular interest in extending this kind of philosophical analysis to cognitive science. Most recently we have emphasized what we call dynamic mechanistic explanation, in which accounts of the components of a mechanism and their organization are coordinated with mathematical models of the mechanism's dynamics. This is achieved when properties of parts and operations (e.g., the rate of an mRNA transcription operation) are linked to variables or terms in differential equations.

Across a longer timeframe, my research on language and cognition has addressed early symbolic gestures and words in typically and atypically developing toddlers. later language development, psycholinguistics, and augmentative communication. Other publications have addressed interdisciplinary relations, cognitive science, connectionism, and learning across species in addition to basic and dynamic mechanistic explanation. The links above provide access to these publications by date (some with PDF) and, alternatively, by topic.

At UCSD I currently am a Project Scientist at the Center for Research in Language (and previously received my PhD from the Department of Psychology). From 1994-2002 I was Associate Professor (part-time) at Washington University in St. Louis and also directed its undergraduate programs in Linguistics and in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology. From November 2001 - October 2004 I was co-project director of a grant to Washington University from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education, "A modular interdisciplinary methods course for cognitive science majors." Carl Craver, Peter Bradley, and William Bechtel have been my collaborators on that project, and our website can be viewed at Earlier I was a researcher at Georgia State University (Atlanta), assistant professor at the New School for Social Research (New York) and Rutgers University (New Brunswick), and postdoctoral fellow at University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). I have had one-semester visiting positions at University of Chicago, Skidmore College, and most recently (April-June 2011) the Institute for Advanced Study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

  Revised May 21, 2011