9.914 Seminar in Cognitive Development - Spring 2015
Special Topics, 9.52: Project-based seminar in Infant and Early
Childhood Cognition - Spring 2013, 2014
9.85 Infant and Early Childhood Cognition - Fall (annual)
9.914 Explorations in Exploration - Spring 2010
All organisms find ways to explore and get new information about their environments. In this class, we will review empirical work on exploratory behaviors ranging from simple orienting behaviors, investigations of spatial terrain, and object manipulation all the way through to human and culture-specific behaviors like question-asking and formal scientific inquiry. We will also look at computational accounts trading-off the utilities of exploring new, vs. exploiting known, information, as well as the brain bases that might underlie selective arousal to novelty and uncertainty and help account for an “exploratory drive.” Methodological approaches will include ethology, evolutionary biology, machine learning, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science.
9.915 Perception, Conception and Action: Grounding Thoughts in Experience (and Vice Versa) - Spring 2008
This class will integrate findings from neuroscience, computational cognitive science, and cognitive development to look at A) whether and how the format of perceptual information affects conceptual development B) whether and how conceptual representations affect perception and C) the role of action in binding perceptual information to conceptual development. All students will write one to two paragraph critical responses to readings each week. Registered students will also submit a final paper and present their ideas on the last day of class.
9.916 Conceptual Development: Representation of Theories, Causes, and Things that make you go hmmm - Spring 2007
Many researchers have argued that intuitive theories are particularly important in our mental life. Naive theories are characterized by structural features (abstract, ontological commitments), dynamic features (the ability to affect the interpretation of evidence and to be affected by evidence), and functional features (the ability to support prediction, explanation, intervention, and counterfactual claims). We examine the arguments that this is so, and consider the developmental origin (innate? learned? domain-specific? domain-general?) of intuitive theories. Arguably however, theories have an additional function: they support curiosity and exploration. We will think about what you might have to know in order to be curious -- and we will look at how theories and patterns of evidence might affect children's exploratory play, their inferences about unobserved variables, and the contexts in which children search for explanations.