Linda B. Smith
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 372(1711), 2017
We offer a new solution to the unsolved problem of how infants break into word learning based on the visual statistics of everyday infant-perspective scenes. Images from head camera video captured by 8 1/2 to 10 1/2 month-old infants at 147 at-home mealtime events were analysed ...MORE ⇓
We offer a new solution to the unsolved problem of how infants break into word learning based on the visual statistics of everyday infant-perspective scenes. Images from head camera video captured by 8 1/2 to 10 1/2 month-old infants at 147 at-home mealtime events were analysed for the objects in view. The images were found to be highly cluttered with many different objects in view. However, the frequency distribution of object categories was extremely right skewed such that a very small set of objects was pervasively present-a fact that may substantially reduce the problem of referential ambiguity. The statistical structure of objects in these infant egocentric scenes differs markedly from that in the training sets used in computational models and in experiments on statistical word-referent learning. Therefore, the results also indicate a need to re-examine current explanations of how infants break into word learning.This article is part of the themed issue 'New frontiers for statistical learning in the cognitive sciences'.
Front. Hum. Neurosci. 11:447, 2017
The digital age is changing our children’s lives and childhood dramatically. New technologies transform the way people interact with each other, the way stories are shared and distributed, and the way reality is presented and perceived. Parents experience that toddlers can handle ...MORE ⇓
The digital age is changing our children’s lives and childhood dramatically. New technologies transform the way people interact with each other, the way stories are shared and distributed, and the way reality is presented and perceived. Parents experience that toddlers can handle tablets and apps with a level of sophistication the children’s grandparents can only envy. In Great Britain, a recent survey of preschoolers shows that a rising number of toddlers are now put to bed with a tablet instead of a bedtime story. In the USA, a telephone survey of 1,009 parents of children aged 2–24 months (Zimmerman et al., 2007a) documents that by 3 months of age, about 40% of children regularly watched television, DVDs or videos, while by 24 months the proportion rose to 90%. Moreover, with the advance and exponential use of social media, children see their parents constantly interacting with mobile devices, instead of with people around them. Still, research in the US indicates that assistive social robots seem to have a favorable effect on children’s language development (Westlund et al.). Existing theories of language acquisition emphasize the role of language input and the child’s interaction with the environment as crucial to language development. From this perspective, we need to ask: What are the consequences of this new digital reality for children’s acquisition of the most fundamental of all human skills: language and communication? Are new theories needed that can help us understand how children acquire language? Do the new digital environment and the new ways of interaction change the way languages are learned, or the quality of language acquisition? Is the use of new media beneficial or harmful to children’s language and cognitive development? Can new technologies be tailored to support child growth and, most importantly, can they be designed to enhance language learning in vulnerable children? These questions and issues can only be addressed bymeans of an interdisciplinary approach that aims at developing new methods of data collection and analysis in a longitudinal perspective. This type of research is however not yet documented.
Topics in cognitive science 8(2):492-502, 2016
Infants' own activities create and actively select their learning experiences. Here we review recent models of embodied information seeking and curiosity-driven learning and show that these mechanisms have deep implications for development and evolution. We discuss how these ...MORE ⇓
Infants' own activities create and actively select their learning experiences. Here we review recent models of embodied information seeking and curiosity-driven learning and show that these mechanisms have deep implications for development and evolution. We discuss how these mechanisms yield self-organized epigenesis with emergent ordered behavioral and cognitive developmental stages. We describe a robotic experiment that explored the hypothesis that progress in learning, in and for itself, generates intrinsic rewards: The robot learners probabilistically selected experiences according to their potential for reducing uncertainty. In these experiments, curiosity-driven learning led the robot learner to successively discover object affordances and vocal interaction with its peers. We explain how a learning curriculum adapted to the current constraints of the learning system automatically formed, constraining learning and shaping the developmental trajectory. The observed trajectories in the robot experiment share many properties with those in infant development, including a mixture of regularities and diversities in the developmental patterns. Finally, we argue that such emergent developmental structures can guide and constrain evolution, in particular with regard to the origins of language.
The emergence of wordsPDF
Proceedings of the Twenty-third Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2001
Abstract Children change in their word-learning abilities sometime during the second year of life. The nature of this behavioral change has been taken to suggest an underlying change in mechanism, from associative learning to a more purely symbolic form of learning. We ...
Children's Noun Learning: How General Learning Processes Make Specialized Learning Mechanisms.
Emergence of Language, 1999
When one looks at all that children come to know so rapidly, so inevitably—knowledge of language, of objects, of number, of space, of other minds—it is easy to conclude that development is driven by mechanisms and principles specific to each domain. There are ...