Melissa Libertus

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Lab web site

Melissa Libertus

Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology

Research Scientist, Learning Research & Development Center

Research Interests

  • Neural and behavioral basis of numerical cognition
  • Development of quantitative understanding
  • Developmental cognitive neuroscience
  • Individual differences in math achievement
  • Relationship between working memory, attention, and mathematical abilities
  • Developmental dyscalculia
  • Interventions for math difficulties

Möhring, W., Ribner, A.D., Segerer, R., Libertus, M., Kahl, T., Troesch, L.M., & Grob, A. (2021). Developmental trajectories of children's spatial skills: Influencing variables and associations with later mathematical thinking. Learning and Instruction, 75.

Silver, A. M., Elliott, L., Imbeah, A., & Libertus, M. E. (2020). Understanding the unique contributions of home numeracy, inhibitory control, the approximate number system, and spontaneous focusing on number for children's math abilities. Mathematical Thinking and Learning.

Silver, A. M., Elliott, L., & Libertus, M. E. (2020). When beliefs matter most: Examining children's math achievement in the context of parental math anxiety. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

Thippana, J., Elliott, L., Gehman, S., Libertus, K., & Libertus, M. (2020). Parents’ use of number talk with young children: Comparing methods, family factors, activity contexts, and relations to math skills. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 53, 249-259.

Bachman, H. J., Elliott, L., Duong, S., Betancur, L.,Navarro, M., Votruba-Drzal, E., & Libertus, M. (2020). Triangulating multi-method assessments of parental support for early math development. Frontiers in Education, 5:589514.

Elliott, L., Feigenson, L., Halberda, J., & Libertus, M. (2019). Bidirectional, longitudinal associations between math ability and approximate number system acuity in childhood. Journal of Cognition and Development, 20(1), 56-74.

Hanner, E., Braham, E. J., Elliott, L., & Libertus, M. E. (2019). Promoting math talk in adult–child interactions through grocery store signs. Mind, Brain, and Education, 159.

Libertus, M. E., Feigenson, L. & Halberda, J. (2018). Infants extract frequency distributions from variable approximate numerical information. Infancy, 23(1), 29-44.

Liu, R., Schunn, C. D., Fiez, J. A., & Libertus, M. E. (2018). The integration between nonsymbolic and symbolic numbers: Evidence from an EEG study. Brain and Behavior, 8(4).

Zheng, P., & Libertus, M. (2018). The role of parental education, household income, and race on parents' academic beliefs and the provision of home learning opportunities for 4- to 8-year-old children. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 8(1), 118-132.

Braham, E., Elliot, L., & Libertus, M. E. (2018). Using hierarchical linear models to examine approximate number system acuity: The role of task parameters and participant characteristics. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2081

Braham, E. J., Libertus, M. E., & McCrink, K. (2018). Increasing children’s spontaneous focus on number through guided parent–child interactions in a children’s museum. Developmental Psychology, 54(8), 1492-1498.

Navarro, M., Braham, E., & Libertus, M. (2018). Intergenerational associations of the approximate number system in toddlers and their parents. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 36(4), 521-539.

Braham, E., & Libertus, M. (2018). When approximate number acuity predicts math performance: The moderating role of math anxiety. PLoS One, 13(5).

Wang, J., Libertus, M., & Feigenson, L. (2018). Hysteresis-induced changes in preverbal infants’ approximate number precision. Cognitive Development, 47, 107-116.

Kersey, A., Braham, E., Csumsitta, K., Libertus, M., & Cantlon, J. (2018). No intrinsic gender differences in children's earliest numerical abilities. Science of Learning, 3(1), 12

Libertus, K., Landa, R. J., & Haworth, J. L. (2017). Development of attention to faces during the first 3 years: Influences of stimulus type. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(1976).

Libertus, M., E., Liu, A., Pikul, O., Jacques, T., Cardoso-Leite, P., Halberda, J., & Bavelier, D. (2017). The impact of action video game training on mathematical abilities in adults. AERA Open.

Libertus, M., Braham, E., & Liu, R. (2017). Infants discriminate number: Evidence against the prerequisite of visual object individuation and the primacy of continuous magnitude. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40.

Libertus, K., Libertus, M., Einspieler, C., & Marschik, P. (2017). "What" matters more than "Why" - Neonatal behaviors initiate social responses. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40.

Möhring, W., Liu, R., & Libertus, M. E. (2017). Infants’ speed discrimination: Effects of different ratios and spatial orientations. Infancy.

Libertus, M. E., Forsman, L., Adén, U., & Hellgren, K. (2017). Deficits in approximate number system acuity and mathematical abilities in 6.5-year-old children born extremely preterm. Frontiers in Psychology, 8 (1175).

Braham, E., & Libertus, M. (2017). Intergenerational associations in numerical approximation and mathematical abilities. Developmental Science, 20(5).

Elliott, L., Braham, E. J., & Libertus, M. L. (2017). Understanding sources of individual variability in parents’ number talk with young children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 159, 1-15.

Pailian, H., Libertus, M., Feigenson, L., & Halberda, J. (2016). Developmental changes in visual short-term memory (VSTM) capacity between ages 3 and 8 years. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 78, 1556-1573.

Melissa Libertus, LRDC Research Scientist, was the focus of the March 2 Institute for Learning's newsletter, answering questions on numeracy and math sense in young children.

March 2, 2021


Jennifer Russell, Professor, Education, and Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor, Psychology were quoted in a February 19 NPR article “Why Kindergarten? Pandemic Disruption Forces Big Questions About U.S. Education System.”

February 19, 2021


Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor, Psychology, is interviewed for the October 22, 2020, Inverse article "Brain Study Reveals How Much of Math Ability is Genetic." Inverse is a digital media company covering topics such as technology, science, and culture for a millennial audience.

October 22, 2020


Kudos to Diana Leyva, Associate Professor, Psychology, and Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor, Psychology for receiving an LRDC 2020 internal grant for their research on “Personalizing Family Routines to Support Three-Year-Olds’ Math Skills.”

May 15, 2020

Melissa Libertus has been elected to the board of the Mathematical Cognition and Learning Society.

January 6, 2020


LRDC's Melissa Libertus was mentioned in WFMZ-TV's article titled. "Are Boys and Girls Equal When it Comes to Math?"

August 13, 2019

Melissa Libertus is featured in Fox8, News4JAX, and WFMZ-TV 69 News for her interview on, "Are boys and girls born equal when it comes to math?"

April 3, 2019


Melissa Libertus and Emily Braham were featured on MyScience on September 7 in an article titled, "Boys and Girls Share Similar Math Abilities at Young Ages, Study Finds", which referenced their research paper, "No Intrinsic Gender Differences in Children’s Earliest Numerical Abilities."

September 7, 2018


Education Week covered a recent paper by Leanne Elliott, Emily Braham, and Melissa Libertus. The article is titled "Does Higher-Level Number Talk Hold Key to Better Math Scores for Young Children?" The paper referenced is "Understanding Sources of Individual Variability in Parents' Number Talk with Young Children."

March 23, 2018


Melissa Libertus is featured in the October 6 PittWire story “Psychology Researcher Wants to Figure Out How Adults and Children Learn Math.”

October 6, 2017


The Discipline-Based Science Education Research Center (Db-SERC) awarded a Mentor-Mentee Award to Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Research Scientist, and Emily Braham, LRDC graduate student, for "Students in cognitive development learn to apply knowledge and communicate effectively through blog posts for parents."

August 16, 2017

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded one of only 19 grants given to cross-disciplinary teams across the United States to Melissa Libertus (P.I.), Associate Professor, Psychology, Marc Coutanche, Assistant Professor, Psychology, and Julie Fiez, Professor, Psychology, Neuroscience, CNBC and Communication Sciences and Disorders, to conduct innovative research on neural and cognitive systems.

August 8, 2017


Principal Investigator Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Research Scientist, and co-PIs Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Assistant Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Center Associate and Heather Bachman were awarded an LRDC Internal Award for “How Low- and High-SES Parents Support Young Children’s Mathematical Thinking."

July 2017

Principal Investigator Jana Iverson and co-PIs Julie Fiez, Adjunct Faculty, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and LRDC Senior Scientist, Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Research Scientist, and Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Assistant Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Center Associate were awarded an APA grant for Summer Undergraduate Psychology Research Experience (SUPRE) in May 2017.

May 2017

Melissa Libertus, LRDC Research Scientist and Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC alum Roberta Golinkoff, Professor, Education, University of Delaware, have authored the HeraldNet article "Viewpoints: Improving students’ STEM scores begins at home."

January 15, 2017


Melissa Libertus, LRDC Research Scientist and Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC alum Roberta Golinkoff, Professor, Education, University of Delaware, were published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on-line “Commentary: Good Math Skills Begin at Home.” The article was also published in the Virgin Islands Daily News.

January 2, 2017


LRDC Research Scientist and Associate Professor, Psychology, Melissa Libertus is quoted in NPR's article "When Blind People Do Algebra, The Brain's Visual Areas Light Up."

September 19, 2016


LRDC Graduate Student Emily Braham and Research Scientist Melissa Libertus were featured in the September 6 TIME online article "How to Help Your Kid With Math Even if You Suck at It."

September 6, 2016


LRDC Research Scientist Melissa Libertus is quoted in The Indian Express (September 2) article "Poor in Maths? Blame it on Your Parents."

September 2, 2016


Melissa Libertus, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, and Ming-Te Wang, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Associate Professor, School of Education have been named 2015 APS Rising Stars, which recognizes outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research careers

January 2016