Lisa Oakes

Lisa Oakes smiling while testing a subject

Position Title

Suite 250, Room 232
202 Cousteau Place, Davis CA 95618



  • Ph.D., Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, 1991
  • B. A., Psychology, The University of California, San Diego, 1985


In addition to her academic appointment in the Department of Psychology, Lisa Oakes is a faculty member with the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Sciences, the Cognitive Development Society, the Cognitive Science Society, the International Congress of Infant Studies, and the Society for Research in Child Development. Her book Developmental Cascades: Building the Infant Mind, written with David Rakison, was published in 2019 by Oxford University Press and was awarded the 2022 Eleanor Maccoby Book Award in Developmental Psychology, by APA Division .

Research Focus

Professor Oakes studies the origins and early development of mental abilities in infancy. In general, this work is motivated by the perspective that cognitive abilities work together, and that our understanding of cognitive development in infancy is enriched by studying the interaction of multiple systems. Ongoing research examines the relation between daily experience (e.g., having a pet in the home) and infants' learning in the lab, the interaction between attentional abilities and visual short-term memory, and infants' learning of dynamic events.


Infant Cognition Lab (Oakes)

Select Recent Publications

DeBolt, M.C., & Oakes, L.M. (2023). The impact of face masks on infants’ attention to and learning of faces: An eye tracking study. Infancy, 28, 71-92. DOI:

Kiat, J.E., Luck, S.J, Beckner, A.G., Hayes, T.R., Pomaranski, K.I., Henderson, J.M., & Oakes, L.M. (2021). Linking patterns of infant eye movements to a neural network model of the ventral stream using representational similarity analysis. Developmental Science, e13155. Repository:

Pomaranski, K. I., Hayes, T. R., Kwon, M.-K., Henderson, J. M., & Oakes, L. M. (2021). Developmental changes in natural scene viewing in infancy. Developmental Psychology, 57(7), 1025–1041. and

DeBolt, M. C., Rhemtulla, M., & Oakes, L. M. (2020). Robust data and power in infant research: A case study of the effect of number of infants and number of trials in visual preference procedures. Infancy, 25, 393-419. Repository:

Beckner, A.G., Cantrell, L.M., DeBolt, M.C., Martinez, M., Luck, S.J., & Oakes, L.M. (2020). Visual short-term memory for overtly attended objects during infancy. Infancy, 25, 347-370. Repository:

Hoemann, K. Wu, R., LoBue, V., Oakes, L.M., Xu, F., & Barrett, L.F. (2020). Developing an understanding of emotion categories: Lessons from objects. Trends in Cognitive Science, 24, 39-51.

Mitsven, S.G., Cantrell, L.M., Luck, S.J., & Oakes, L.M. (2018). Visual short-term memory guides infants’ visual attention. Cognition, 177, 189-197. Repository:

Ellis, A.E., Xiao, N., Lee, K., & Oakes, L.M. (2017). Scanning of own- versus other-race faces in infants from racially diverse or homogenous communities.  Developmental Psychobiology, 59, 613-627.

Oakes, L.M. (2017). Plasticity may change inputs as well as processes, structures, and responses. Cognitive Development, 42, 4-14.

Oakes, L. M. (2017). Sample Size, Statistical Power, and False Conclusions in Infant LookingTime Research. Infancy, 22, 436-469.

Ross-Sheehy, S., Perone, S., Vecera, S., & Oakes, L.M. (2016). The relationship between sitting and the use of symmetry as a cue to figure-ground assignment in 6.5-month-old infants. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 759.

Kwon, M. K., Setoodehnia, M., Baek, J., Luck, S. J., & Oakes, L. M. (2016). The development of visual search in infancy: Attention to faces versus salience. Developmental Psychology, 52, 537-555.

Hurley, K. B., & Oakes, L. M. (2015). Experience and distribution of attention: Pet exposure and infants’ scanning of animal images. Journal of Cognition and Development, 16, 11-30.

Kovack-Lesh, K. A., McMurray, B., & Oakes, L. M. (2014). Four-month-old infants’ visual
 investigation of cats and dogs: Relations with pet experience and attentional
 strategy, Developmental Psychology, 50, 402-413. doi: 10.1037/a0033195 PMID: 2373128


Professor Oakes teaches Developmental Psychology and Infant Development.


Professor Oakes has been selected as a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.