Tuesday, Oct 13, 2020. 12:00 noon - 01:00 PM ETLink to Zoom for Online Seminar.

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Hyowon Gweon -- Learning from others, helping others learn: Cognitive foundations of distinctively human social learning

Abstract: Learning does not occur in isolation. From parent-child interactions to formal classroom environments, humans explore, learn, and communicate in rich, diverse social contexts. Rather than simply observing and copying their conspecifics, humans engage in a range of epistemic practices that actively recruit those around them. What makes human social learning so distinctive, powerful, and smart?

In this talk, I will present a series of studies that reveal the remarkably sophisticated inferential abilities that young children show not only in how they learn from others but also in how they help others learn. Children interact with others as learners and as teachers to learn and communicate about the world, about others, and even about the self. The results collectively paint a picture of human social learning that is far more than copying and imitation: It is active, bidirectional, and cooperative. I will end by discussing new efforts to understand what motivates humans to engage in these interactions, and implications for building better machines that learn from and interact with humans.

Bio: Hyowon (Hyo) Gweon (she/her) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of Graduate Studies for the Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford University. Hyo received her PhD in Cognitive Science (2012) from MIT, where she continued as a post-doc before joining Stanford in 2014. Hyo is broadly interested in how humans learn from others and help others learn. Taking an interdisciplinary approach that combines developmental, computational, and neuroimaging methods, her research aims to explain the cognitive underpinnings of distinctively human learning, commmunication, and prosocial behaviors. She has been named as a Richard E. Guggenhime Faculty Scholar (2020) and a David Huntington Dean's Faculty Scholar (2019), and received the APS Janet Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions (2020), Jacobs Early Career Fellowship (2020), James S. McDonnell Scholar Award for Human Cognition (2018), APA Dissertation Award (2014), and Marr Prize (best student paper, Cognitive Science Society 2010).