Duke Psychology & Neuroscience 2017 Jerome Bruner Lecture


Alison Gopnik, Ph.D

"The Uses of Immaturity Revisited: Life History and Learning"Dr. Gopnik will present several studies showing that preschoolers can learn abstract higher-order principles from data, as well as studies of adolescents, low SES American children, and Peruvian children on the same tasks. In each case, younger learners were actually better at inferring unusual or unlikely principles than older learners. Dr. Gopnik will then relate this to computational ideas about search and sampling, to evolutionary ideas about human life history, and to neuroscience findings about the negative effects of frontal control on wide exploration, and the advantages of earlier neural architectures for wide-ranging learning. The hypothesis is that childhood is evolution's way of performing simulated annealing. Our distinctively long human childhood allows a period of broad "high-temperature" hypothesis search.

Monday, October 16, 2017 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Sociology-Psychology 130 (Zener)
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