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Social Cognition in the Early Years


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The CERI OECD/National Science Foundation International Conference took place in Paris, at the OECD Headquarters on 23-24 January 2012. Here the presentation of Session 5, Informal Learning, Item 3.

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Social Cognition in the Early Years

  1. 1. Social Cognition in the Early Years Andrew N. Meltzoff LIFE Center University of Washington
  2. 2. Two Starting Points for Theory & Practice • Human learning starts at birth, so the Science of Learning must start at birth • Infants learn first and best from other people: “Social Leaning”
  3. 3. Role Models and Imitative Learning
  4. 4. Imitation as a Basic Learning Mechanism For Transmission of Culture We discovered that imitation begins at birth!
  5. 5. Emotions and Learning
In the second year of life, infants are verysensitive to emotional reactions. This influencestheir learning. The research is explained in thereferences below:• Repacholi & Meltzoff, Child Development, 2007• Repacholi, Meltzoff, & Olsen, Developmental Psychology, 2008This shows that non-cognitive factors play amajor role in pre-school learning
  6. 6. The Social BrainWe investigated the neural basis of sociallearning, using EEG recordings in youngchildren as they observed and imitated an adult
  7. 7. Imitation Task for EEG (mu rhythm desynchronization)Marshall & Meltzoff Marshall, Young, & Meltzoff,Dev. Cog. Neurosci., 2011 Dev. Sci., 2011
  8. 8. Gaze Following: Social Learning
  9. 9. Gaze Following is crucial developmental component of learning • Learning language, names for things •  Learning about new objects and concepts •  Acquiring new skills via imitation and instruction
  10. 10. Gaze Following & Joint Visual Attention Using technology • Problem: Establishing joint reference in computer- mediated communications and multimedia • Domains: Diagrams, pictures, dynamic videos • Important: For computer supported collaborative learning
  11. 11. Infant Gaze Following TimeBrooks & Meltzoff,Dev. Psych., 2002
  12. 12. Gaze and Language Learning: Gaze Following + Pointing Predicts Vocabulary Growth (SES controlled) 600 + High Social Gaze 500Words Produced Following & Pointing 400 300 -  Low Social Gaze 200 Following & Pointing 100 0 10-11 14 18 24 Brooks & Meltzoff (2008) Age in Months J. of Child Language
  13. 13. Extensions to Social Robots Infant Imitation Robotic Imitation Meltzoff, Brooks, Shon, & RaoRobotic Gaze Following (2010). Neural Networks.
  14. 14. Psychological Theory• Infants: Imitation of a person’s motor behavior• Elementary-school children: Take on the attitudes & attributes associated of the group - With development, children establish ‘Like me’ class. Based on that, the way culture treats other ‘like me’ people has implications for the child’s development. This applies across the life-span. Meltzoff, “Like Me” theory, Dev. Sci. 2007
  15. 15. Practice Gaze Following & Imitation in Everyday LifeChildren learn naturally bywatching what others doBut in formal schoolingwe often force themto learn in isolation
  16. 16. A New Science of LearningMeltzoff, Kuhl, Movellan, & Sejnowski, Science (2009)