How do infants learn?

2 July 2024
14.00 - 15.30
Online Teams Meeting

We are pleased to announce that professor Stefanie Höhl (University of Vienna) will speak at our online BRC Colloquium on July 2nd. She is professor of Developmental Psychology and she is renowned for her research on the baby brain.

Title: How do infants learn? Neural oscillations shed light on infant attention & learning

Infants constantly integrate novel information into their developing semantic networks. The role of the theta rhythm in encoding and memory formation has been well established in animal models and human adults. Meanwhile, our understanding of neural oscillations in human infants is still very limited.

I will first introduce rhythmic visual stimulation as a useful tool to study infant attention and learning and especially for tapping into the functional role of neural oscillations. I will present studies implicating the 4 Hz theta rhythm in infants’ processing of unexpected events. Results suggest that oscillatory activity in the theta band supports integration of novel information into existing concepts in infants.

I will further present our work on the role of theta oscillations for the formation of novel object representations. We applied multivariate pattern analyses on the EEG data of infants and adults viewing various images from different visual categories. Results show that theta band neural oscillations form the basis of visual category representations in infants, and that these representations are shifted to faster frequency bands in adults.

Finally, I will present our ongoing longitudinal EEG research into the early mechanisms of dynamic attention. We test whether early individual differences in selectively attending to task-relevant stimulus streams predict later cognitive outcomes. Together, our results speak to an integral role of the theta rhythm for attention and learning in the infant brain.

8 October 2024
Max Planck Instituut, Wundtlaan 1, Nijmegen