Structured ecologies for social and linguistic development

AbstractThis is a joint work of two labs that offers a perspective on development and learning, which complements the conference’s focus on “changes in representation and processing abilities in development”. Strong background in ecological psychology allowed us to recognize the richness and multilayered structuring of infants’ environment, which actively engages them and to which infants tune their action-perception. We conceptualize this environment as reliable “social physics”, constituted of predictable, enacted social events, in which infants learn to participate. Using both traditional (qualitative and quantitative) and dynamical systems methods, we show the structuring of such events on multiple timescales and levels and how participating in them sculpts the child’s agency in the social world. We show how this background allows a fresh look on language acquisition and how it informs computational modelling of language emergence and models of human-robot interaction.

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