Cassie Eng

Ph.D. Student in Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University
Program in Interdisciplinary Education Research (PIER) Fellow
  • Can we improve cognition in children through a video game that promotes both cognitive engagement and physical activity?

  • Currently, I am taking traditional cognitive tasks for children and transforming them into physical, live video games.

  • How can technology enrich the learning experiences of children?

  • Do children’s individual differences in executive function influence how much they learn from varying digital media presentations?

Rotating frontal lobe

Cassie Eng portrait

Current Research at Carnegie Mellon University

August 2016-present

Infant Language Learning Lab

  • Investigating how learning outcomes in childhood vary using different presentations (traditional storybooks vs. interactive digital technologies)
  • Designing digital media presentations that are especially useful for children with attention deficits

Cognitive Development Lab

  • Examining the impact of varying visual presentations in digital storybooks on children’s developing reading, learning skills and understandings

Prior Research at Virginia Tech

Developmental Science, PREP Scholar August 2015 - July 2016

Cognition, Affect, & Psychophysiology Lab

Virginia Tech
  • Behavioral & corresponding brain electrical activity (EEG) during working memory, attention, inhibitory control, emotion regulation, and temperament tasks of mothers and children
  • Mathematical problem solving, arithmetic calculation, verbal fluency, reading comprehension, and mother-child dyad social interaction data collection with 9-year-olds

Prior Research at Penn State

Class of 2015

Penn State
  • Investigated the relation between synthetic hormone doses in oral contraceptives and cognitive abilities
  • Researched children exposed to high levels of androgens due to congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)

In my free time

I'm a group fitness instructor for Les Mills, a program offered in 100 countries around the world. What differentiates this exercise program from others is that the routines are designed through scientifically-based research through collaboration with kinesiologists and exercise physiologists.

Cassie as a fitness instructor

Recent experimental research has converged on an intriguing finding: exercise activities in which one must create, monitor, and modifiy actions in the presence of continually changing task demands promote executive functions.

Yet, school time dedicated to recess has dwindled and few children receive the recommended amount of physical activity. Children with low physical activity self-efficacy and enjoyment or negative perceptions of exercising around others might be discouraged from fully engaging and participating in group exercise games or sports. Other children might not have access to safe recreational equipment. Exergames (a portmanteau of “exercise” and “games”) are a new generation of video games that stimulate a more active, whole-body gaming experience. Exergames require similar skills sports and group exercise games do: anticipating the behavior of opponents, employing strategies, and adapting to ever-changing task demands to accomplish a challenging goal while coordinating the body to execute complex movements. Importantly, exergames can implement algorithms for continuously adapting the difficulty level to children’s individual performance so they are challenged at the right level.

During the period of immaturity in prekindergarten children (i.e., 3- to 5-year-olds), progressive and regressive changes (e.g., myelination and synaptic pruning, respectively) occur concurrently and are driven in part by the child’s experiences. Executive function interventions are used as remediation or prevention of cognitive deficits, so early intervention is crucial; yet little research has conducted training interventions involving complex motor movements with children below school-age. Currently, I am investigting whether experiencing a cognitively engaging exergame before entering formal schooling may temporarily enhance the functioning of cognitive skills, and with carefully controlled experiments determine the underlying mechanisms of why.

Hobbies improve work–life balance, increase productivity, and help scientists reach creative solutions in their work.

My hobbies include sculpting, drawing, and painting-usually inspired by data visuals and brain images produced by researchers in the field I look up to.

Brain Lobectomies from the Behrmann Laboratory: Fauvism inspired acrylic on canvas

Diffusion Tensor Brain Imaging from the CoAx Laboratory: Split canvas on mixed media

Cassie with a sculpture she made out of electronic parts "The MacWhinster:" engineered from 1000+ recyclable computer parts

For The Kids represents Penn State's THON: the largest student-run philanthropy in the world for the fight against pediatric cancer

Ever wonder where your socks disappear to? I have a theory...

Tonotopic Maps Across the Auditory Cortex: Reverse Perspective 3D Painting from the Holt Lab

Historically, the disciplines of exercise physiology, developmental psychology and cognitive science, art and technology have had little interaction together despite being able to answer important questions when molded together. I'm bringing together these disciplines in my on-going research to contribute to the fields and make an impact on the community.

Meet the Research Team


Bridget Tan

  • Major in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Github: @japanda3
  • Hobbies: Games, Sound Engineering

Nick Lee

  • Major in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Github: @tabbyson
  • Hobbies: Sports, Ethical Hacking

Carter Williams

  • Major in Logic and Computation
  • Github: @gantar22
  • Hobbies: Games; philosophy; longboarding

Nicole Ang

  • Double Major in Statistics and Machine Learning and Information Systems
  • Github: @nicoleang
  • Hobbies: Games; Photography, Travel

Dominic Calkosz

  • Double Major in Computer Science and Game Design
  • Github: @Dmcdominic
  • Hobbies: Games, Music

Kalpa Anjur

  • Major in Computer Science
  • Github: @hitechlife
  • Hobbies: Percussion, Games, Webtoons

Kade Stewart

  • Double Major in Cognitive Science and Linguistics
  • Github: @KadeStewart
  • Hobbies: Rock Climbing; Gaming; Music

Where are they now?

One of my favorite parts about acaedmia is mentoring undergraduate students, and watching them learn and thrive in a research environment. My completed and on-going projects would not be possible without the dedicated, driven undergraduate students I am lucky enough to work alongside with.

Marie Shaw

  • Marie graduated with a dual major in Electrical Computer Engineering and Human Computer Interaction with a minor in Integrative Design, Arts and Technology.
  • Github: @mnshaw
  • She currently works at YouTube in California.

Xavier Artache

  • Xavier graduated with a dual Major in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science with a dual minor in Business and Robotics.
  • Github: @xaxafour
  • He currently works at the startup AutoX, which programs self-driving vehicles.
Website by Marie Shaw