Richard N. Aslin

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Richard N. Aslin
Born (1949-08-09) August 9, 1949 (age 71)
Alma materMichigan State University, University of Minnesota
Scientific career
FieldsDevelopmental psychology
InstitutionsHaskins Laboratories, University of Rochester

Richard N. Aslin (born August 9, 1949) is an American psychologist. He is currently a Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories.[1] Until December, 2016, Dr. Aslin was William R. Kenan Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Center for Visual Sciences at the University of Rochester[2]. During his time in Rochester, he was also Director of the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging and the Rochester Baby Lab. He had worked at the University for over thirty years, until he resigned in protest of the University's handling of a sexual harassment complaint about T. Florian Jaeger, a junior member of his department.[3][4]

His research covers many areas, but the bulk of it concerns statistical learning, visual perception, speech perception, language development, and visual development. A great deal of his work focuses on understanding how higher-level cognitive representations and structures are constructed from lower-level sensory input statistics, including how acoustic variation in speech to infants yields phonologically distinct speech sound categories in adults.


Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,[5] he graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts with High Honors in Psychology, in 1971.[6]

Aslin received his Ph.D in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1975 at the Institute of Child Development. His advisor was Philip Salapatek.[7] He was a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at the Indiana University and a visiting researcher at the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota before joining the faculty at the University of Rochester. He is also the current President of the International Society for Infant Studies.[8]

In 2017, Aslin and eight other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit with attorney Ann Olivarius against the University of Rochester for sexual misconduct by Professor Florian Jaeger of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department.[9] In 2020, the University settled the case for $9.4 million.[10] Said Aslin, “We hope this settlement encourages people affected by discrimination and retaliation to seek justice and never give up.”[11]

He has a wife and two sons. His son Tim is an actor.[12]

Research interests[edit]

Aslin studies infant perception and language development using eye tracking and neuroimaging methods. Some of his early work concerned how infants learn the speech categories of their native language based on the noisy input of speech around them. He also studied how this process of forming speech categories interacts with word learning in young pre-verbal infants. Later work, with collaborators Jenny Saffran and Elissa L. Newport addressed how infants segment words from continuous speech by tracking the co-occurrence statistics of the syllables. This research yielded many publications that are considered classics in the statistical learning literature, including a 1996 Science article, "Statistical Learning in 8-Month-Old Infants".[13] Some of his recent work has extended original findings about infants' ability to track environmental statistics in speech to the visual world. Recently he has studied how infants use statistics of the visual world in order to infer properties about the structure of objects in the world.[14] He has also recently conducted research investigating how infants allocate their attention in the visual world.[15]

He has collaborated on studies of adults' spoken word recognition, speech perception, and word learning with Michael Tanenhaus.


Aslin has been recognized by a number of organizations for the impact of his theoretical and empirical contributions to the fields of cognitive science and developmental psychology. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at Uppsala University in 2010,[16] the Robert and Pamela Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning in 2001, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988. He also received numerous early career development awards, including ones from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychological Association, and the National Science Foundation. He was named a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2006, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[17] and in 2014, he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences[18] Aslin's research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the McDonnell Foundation, and the Packard Foundation.


  1. ^ Aslin, Richard. "Richard N. Aslin". Haskins Laboratories. Haskins Laboratories, Inc. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  2. ^ Witze, Alexandra (2017). "Scientists' sexual-harassment case sparks protests at University of Rochester". Nature. Macmillan Publishers Limited. 549 (7672): 315–316. doi:10.1038/nature.2017.22620. PMID 28933441.
  3. ^ Pauly, Madison (8 September 2017). "She was a rising star at a major university. Then a lecherous professor made her life hell". Mother Jones. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  4. ^ Wang, Vivian (15 September 2017). "Sexual Harassment Charges Roil Elite University Department". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Neurotree - Richard N Aslin Details". 2006-11-08. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  6. ^ "Curriculum Vitae - Richard N. Aslin" (PDF). 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  7. ^ "Neurotree - Richard N Aslin Family Tree". 2006-11-08. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  8. ^ "International Society for Infant Studies". Archived from the original on 2010-09-10. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  9. ^ Case No: 6:17-cv-06847, Aslin et al. v. University of Rochester et al.
  10. ^ Alexandra Witze, "University pays millions to researchers who sued over sexual-harassment allegations," Science, 27 March 2020.
  11. ^ Colleen Flaherty, "Rochester Settles Sex Harassment Case for $9.4M," Inside HigherEd, 30 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Tim Aslin - Biography". Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  13. ^ Saffran, J. R.; Aslin, R. N.; Newport, E. L. (1996-12-13). "Statistical Learning in 8-Month-Old Infants". Science. 274 (5294): 1926–1928. doi:10.1126/science.274.5294.1926. PMID 8943209. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  14. ^ Fiser, József; Aslin, Richard N. (2001). "Unsupervised Statistical Learning of Higher-Order Spatial Structures from Visual Scenes". Psychological Science. 12 (6): 499–504. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00392. ISSN 0956-7976. PMID 11760138.
  15. ^ "Cognitive Science Society : Annual Conference : Awards of the Cognitive Science Conference". Archived from the original on 2010-12-30. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  16. ^ "Richard Aslin Awarded Honorary Doctorate of Social Sciences at Swedish University". 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  17. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  18. ^ "Richard Aslin Inducted into the National Academy of Sciences". May 21, 2014.

External links[edit]