Dear MBB Friends,
We hope you will join us for the MBB Distinguished Lectures next Tuesday and Wednesday! These lectures are open to everyone, so please feel free to share this announcement with your department. And please feel free to post the attached flyer.
Patricia K. Kuhl, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Tuesday, April 3
The Linguistic Genius of Infants: Early Learning and Brain Plasticity
Humans’ capacity for language has puzzled scholars for centuries, from the earliest philosophers of mind, to biologists, neuroscientists, and more recently engineers and computer scientists who want machines to crack the speech code. I will describe a model of the earliest phases of language growth that addresses the nature-nurture debate by delineating the contributions of both to the acquisition of human speech. The model’s unique solution lies in understanding that infants’ computational skills are fundamentally coupled to, in fact ‘gated’ by, the social brain. The data supporting this model lead to a new view of the neurobiological critical period for language acquisition. Understanding the interaction between biology and culture in human language acquisition will provide a key to understanding the human mind.
Post-talk commentary by Professor Jesse Snedeker
Wednesday, April 4
The Infant Brain: Using Neuroscience Tools to Measure Neurolearning
Infants are born with innate biases that provide a blueprint for learning. In the domain of language, powerful learning mechanisms allow children exposed to language to absorb the culture’s linguistic code in a short period following specifiable rules. The tools of modern neuroscience allow us to track neural signatures of learning, and identify biomarkers that show promise for the early identification of developmental disabilities such as autism and dyslexia, and suggest novel interventions. I will describe how new brain and behavioral measures predict children’s future development—and describe where these measures might take us. The findings are leading to technologies that may improve our ability to learn a second language at any age.
Post-talk commentary by Professor Takao Hensch
Both lectures start at 5pm
Science Center, Hall D