RICHARD ASLIN, William R. Kenan Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Center for Visual Sciences, University of Rochester
Title: Behavioral and neural mechanisms of statistical learning and implicit attention in infants and adults
Ebbinghaus Empire Series 2015-2016
VIDEO RECORDING OF TALK
Abstract: Over the past two decades, there has been substantial interest in a powerful implicit learning mechanism -- often called statistical learning -- that enables infants, children, adults and non-humans to extract patterned information by mere exposure to structured input. A key question is how learners go beyond the input they receive to make implicit inferences about novel exemplars they have never encountered -- i.e., when to generalize and when to treat new items as exceptions. A corollary of this question is how learners adapt to a changing environment -- i.e., how do they build a model of the world that contains more than a single structure? A second key question is how naive learners make implicit inferences about which features of the input are most likely to be informative -- how to guide attention among a large set of alternatives. I will summarize a series of experiments with infants, children, and adults that address these two questions and highlight additional challenges faced by learners in natural (complex) environments. I will also summarize several fMRI studies of statistical learning in adults. Finally, because fMRI is extremely difficult to use with infants, I will also summarize some recent work that uses fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) to study basic aspects of learning in 6-month-olds.
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