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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Faculty & Staff Directory

Peter Kaplan, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair

Email: Peter Kaplan
Office Location:
North Classroom 5002H
Phone: (303) 556-2601
Fax: (303) 556-3520
Office hours: T, Th 12:00-12:30 pm, 2:30-3:30 pm
Areas of Expertise:
Experimental psychology, Postpartum depression, Child development

Education & Degrees

Ph.D., Indiana University, 1982

A.B., Rutgers College, 1978


I have a long-standing interest in basic learning processes, particularly in developing human infants. My current research centers on effects of maternal and paternal depression on learning and cognitive development in human infants. Parental stimulation is critical to early cognitive development, and stimulation infants receive from depressed parents is lacking in important perceptual dimensions. However, more important for infant learning appears to be the child's assessment that a depressed caregiver is a relatively poor interaction partner. Even more than a diagnosis of depression, a rating of a parent as behaviorally insensitive is the best predictor of poor learning in response to parental stimulation. In cases of maternal depression, infants are highly responsive to a non-depressed, involved father. Research in my laboratory seeks to understand the behavioral mechanisms underlying these effects, and the implications for the child's cognitive and emotional development.

Select Publications

Kaplan, P. S, Bachorowski, J.-A., & Zarlengo-Strouse, P. (1999). "Child-directed Speech Produced by Mothers with Symptoms of Depression Fails to Promote Associative Learning in Four-month Old Infants." Child Development, 70, 560-570.

Kaplan, P. S., Bachorowski, J.-A., Smoski, M. J., & Hudenko, W. J. (2002). "Infants of Depressed Mothers, Although Competent Learners, Fail to Acquire Associations in Response to their own Mothers’ IDS." Psychological Science, 13, 268-271.

Kaplan, P. S., Dungan, J. K., & Zinser, M.C. (2004). "Infants of Chronically Depressed Mothers Learn in Response to Male, but not Female, IDS." Developmental Psychology, 40, 140-148.

Kaplan, P. S., Sliter, J. K., & Burgess, A.P. (2007). "Infant-directed speech Produced by Fathers with Symptoms of Depression: Effects on Infant Associative Learning in a Conditioned-attention Paradigm." Infant Behavior & Development, 30, 535-545.

Kaplan, P. S., Burgess, A. P., Sliter, J. K., & Moreno, A. J. (2009). "Maternal Sensitivity and the Learning-Promoting Effects of Maternal Infant-Directed Speech." Infancy, 14, 143-161.

Kaplan, P. S., Danko, C. M., & Diaz, A. (2010). "A Privileged Status for Male Infant-Directed Speech in Infants of Depressed Mothers? Role of Father Involvement." Infancy, 11,

Kaplan, P. S., Danko, C. M., Diaz, A., & Kalinka, C. J. (in press). "An Associative Learning Deficit in One-Year-Old Infants of Depressed Mothers: Role of Depression Duration." Infant Behavior & Development.

Courses Taught

PSYC 1000: Introductory Psychology I
PSYC 3600: Language Development & Evolution
PSYC 4164: Psychology of Perception