MSU CogSci Linda Smith - October 11, 2010

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"Grounding Toddler Learning in Sensory Motor Dynamics."

Abstract for talk: Most theories of cognitive development are "cognitive" in the sense of being about internal models, propositions, and inferences. It is not at all clear that these theories can explain real world learning. Child learn in a physical world - about objects, actions, and other social beings, and language - through their second-by-second, minute-by-minute sensorimotor interactions in that world. They create their own experiences through their own actions. This talk considers how the body - and physical actions - may play a special role in - and indeed simplify - learning object names. The body's momentary actions appear to play a direct role in what might seem to be cognitive operations - attention and binding - bind objects in teh physical environment to internal cognitive operations. The domain used to illustrate these points is toddler word learning. Using tiny videocameras placed low on the forehead of the child to capture the dynamic first person view, measure of eye-gaze direction, motion sensors on heads and hands, and success in word learning tasks, the experiments show learning that is inseparable from - and made in - embodied interaction in the world.


Suggested Readings:

Smith, L. & Gasser, M. (2005). The Development of Embodied Cognition: Six Lessons from Babies. Artificial Life, 11, 13-30.[.pdf]

Smith, L. B., Yu, C., & Pereira, A. F. (2009). Not your mother's view: the dynamics of toddler visual experience. Developmental Science, 1-9. [.pdf]

Smith, L. B. & Sheya, A. (2010). Is Cognition Enough to Explain Cognitive Development? Topics in Cognitive Science, 1-11.[.pdf]

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