Amphithéâtre Marguerite de Navarre, Site Marcelin Berthelot
En libre accès, dans la limite des places disponibles

Comment les bébés apprennent-ils ? Le rôle de la surprise, de la curiosité et de l'expérimentation active


The origins of our minds are an enduring puzzle-- what parts of what we know require learning, and what emerges in the absence of specific experience? Questions about how nature and nurture contribute to human knowledge have been productive in driving contemporary research in psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience. Yet, these questions also have been controversial, with some arguing that it is no longer useful to consider development in terms of nature and nurture. Here I revisit classic ideas in this theme, and provide new evidence. First I argue that people, including children and scientists, naturally and intuitively think about human abilities in terms of innateness versus learning. Moreover, we find that their thinking exhibits strong empiricist biases. Characterizing these biases, and their potential to distort scientific reasoning, is critical if we are to come to understand the actual origins of knowledge. Next, I present a case study for thinking about learning that puts new emphasis on the role of prior knowledge. In a series of experiments, we find that infants’ acquisition of new information (i.e., nurture) is guided and enhanced by prior knowledge that is likely innate (i.e., nature). These experiments highlight that integrating across the contributions of nature and nurture, rather than ignoring this distinction, is central to understanding phenomena of interest. I suggest that researchers must continue to think about nature/nurture, with the recognition that in so doing we also must characterize, understand, and correct for our intuitive biases.


Lisa Feigenson

Johns Hopkins University, New York