Most infants and toddlers have a prodigious ability to learn, in part because they spend a lot of time interacting with caregivers. In the Princeton Baby Lab, we study how the mechanisms of infant cognition and the details of environmental experience combine to shape early learning. In particular, we study the beginnings of language learning and communication.
How do learners gather new information during word learning? One possibility is that learners selectively sample items that help them reduce uncertainty about new word meanings.
Early infancy is characterized by rapid brain development that occurs alongside, and in response to, the development of cognitive and behavioral functions, including attention. Infants’ ability to orient and sustain attention to stimuli develops in concert with refinement of the orienting network in frontoparietal regions of the brain.
Imagine that you’ve been dropped into an unfamiliar country. People are speaking all around you. But you don’t recognize the sounds or objects surrounding you. You don’t even hear words; all the sounds are mushed together. It is very confusing.