Michael Siegal#

Obituary by Professor Luca Surian of the University of Trento and commemorative words by Graham Turpin, Head of Department, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield.

Activities and Distinctions
  • Recipient of an EU Marie Curie Chair award (2006-2009)
  • Editorial Boards: Developmental Psychology (1992, 1999-2004), Developmental Science (2000- date), Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (1989-2002), Social Development (2000- date), Trends in Cognitive Sciences (2004-2006)
  • Associate Editor of the British Journal of Developmental Psychology (1996 - date) and co-editor of the Language and Conceptual Development Series in Trends in Cognitive Sciences (2004-2005)
  • participant in the “Innateness and the structure of the mind” (2001-2004) that was supported by a £310,659 AHRB grant to S. Laurence (Philosophy, Sheffield) for which Michael Siegal was a co-applicant.
  • A ex-PhD student, Tyron Woolfe, won the 2002 BPS Neil O'Connor Award in recognition of outstanding research in the field of developmental disability by a young investigator.
  • Michael Siegal's research has received coverage in the print and electronic media and in 2005 was the subject a documentary on cognitive developmental research produced by NHK Educational Television in Japan.
  • His work in progress includes contributions to the Handbook of Language Development (Blackwell), Handbook of Applied Linguistics (Mouton de Gruyter), and Handbook of the Neuroscience of Language (Elsevier Science). He is in the processing of writing a book The Challenge of Discovering What Children Know (OUP).

Invited speaker
  • Conference on Conversational Pragmatics (Toulouse, June, 2006)
  • Conference on Conceptual and Linguistic Development (Reims, France, 2005)
  • Conference on Deaf and Hearing People: Language and Culture in Denmark, (Copenhagen, November, 2005)
  • International Symposium on Molecular Genetics and Higher Cognitive Functioning, Heron Island, Australia, February, 2004)
  • Conference on Brain Mechanisms of Thinking, International Institute for Advanced Studies (Kyoto, Japan, January, 2003)
  • XXVIIIème Symposium de L'Association de Psychologie Scientifique de Langue Française (Rouen, France, July, 2002)

Michael Siegal writes about his research interests

"My early interests were in researching family and cultural influences on children´s social cognition and moral understanding. Later I became involved in a series of investigations on how children interpret questions in experiments in areas such as number and theory of mind.

From these studies, I have developed an enduring interest in the development of conversational pragmatics and how conversational understanding relates to children´s conceptual knowledge in biology and cosmology as well as number and `theory of mind´ reasoning.

In recent years, this work has extended to research on the relation between language and cognition involving studies of atypically developing children such as deaf children, as well as adults with agrammatical aphasia or with right hemisphere lesions that result in an impaired ability to follow inferences in conversation.

There are two objectives that unify my research. The first is to find the true depth and potential of children´s cognitive development in different cultures. The second is to determine how access to language, language acquisition, and participation in conversation influence cognitive processes in development and their breakdown in adulthood following brain damage.

In carrying out these studies, I derive immense satisfaction in the success of my collaborators and students."

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