Stephanie Denison, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo
Title: The Origins of Inductive Inference in Infancy and Early Childhood
Ebbinghaus Empire Series 2014-2015
VIDEO RECORDING OF TALK
Abstract: Research conducted over the past 25 years has dramatically changed the way that psychologists view the cognitive state of the human infant: Infants appear to possess surprisingly rich knowledge about the world in domains such as object, agent, number and causality. A long-standing debate in the field concerns whether this knowledge that appears so early in development must necessarily be innately given or whether some of this knowledge can be learned through experience. I will discuss findings from three related lines of research in my lab that explore an inductive inference mechanism that is present in early infancy and appears to be powerful enough to support learning. The mechanism relies on infants’ abilities to make probabilistic inferences, allowing them to make broad generalizations from sparse data, use probability information to make predictions and guide their actions, and integrate substantive domain knowledge into their computations.
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