Powered by recent advances in artificial intelligence, computer systems are now able to outperform humans in certain cognitive tasks. For example, there are algorithms that are better than us at recognizing handwritten letters or digits. In several hallmark domains of natural intelligence, however, even the smartest learning algorithms are hopelessly inferior to the remarkable learning capacities of human children. Driven by this fascination for learning, the overarching question I will address in my presentation is how uniquely human intelligent behavior emerges in the course of development. A particular focus will be how children learn to understand symbolic information (e.g., read words and grasp numbers), generate models of their experience (e.g., a quantification system) and use these models for problem solving. Going beyond descriptive developmental psychological theories, I will introduce an explanatory framework that anchors behavioral learning trajectories in interacting biological systems (brains, genes and environments). Building on this conceptual foundation, I will address both universal principles and individual differences of learning (with an emphasis on dyslexia and dyscalculia). Moreover, I will talk about our field site research efforts (currently in India) aiming for a better understanding of how learning is shaped by cultural diversity.
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Open to public, drinks afterwards.