The Developing Infant Creates a Curriculum for Statistical Learning

Linda B. Smith, Swapnaa Jayaraman, Elizabeth Clerkin, Chen Yu
2018 Trends in Cognitive Sciences  
New efforts are using head-cameras and eye-trackers worn by infants to capture everyday visual environments from the infant learner's point of view. From this vantage point, the training sets for statistical learning develop as the infant's sensory-motor abilities develop, yielding a series of ordered data sets for visual learning that differ in content and structure between time points but are highly selective at each time point. These changing environments may constitute a developmentally
more » ... red curriculum that optimizes learning across many domains. Future advances in computational models are needed to connect the developmentally changing content and statistics of infant experience to the internal machinery that does the learning. What are the data for learning? The world presents learners with many statistical regularities. Considerable evidence indicates that humans are adept at discovering those regularities across many different domains including language, vision, and social behavior [1]. Accordingly, there is much interest in "statistical learning" and how learners discover regularities from complex data sets like those encountered in the world. Much of this interest is directed to the statistical learning abilities of human infants. In the first two years of life, infants make strong starts in language, in visual object recognition, in using and understanding tools, in social behaviors, and more. By the benchmarks of speed, amount, diversity, robustness, and generalization, human infants are powerful learners. Any theory of statistical learning worth its salt needs to address the growth in knowledge that occurs during infancy. All statistical learning depends on both the internal machinery that does the learning and the regularities in the data on which that machinery operates. The usual assumption is that the
doi:10.1016/j.tics.2018.02.004 pmid:29519675 pmcid:PMC5866780 fatcat:2vmlx6eeufdzniph6jlu4cqsom