Some thoughts on curiosity in infants and neural network models

Gert Westermann presented at Neurocuriosity 2014: The First interdisciplinary symposium on Information-seeking, curiosity and attention, held in Bordeaux, France on 6-7 November 2014. 

Abstract: Studies on young infants' learning of objects and categories often present infants with a sequence of individual stimuli in a fixed or randomized order. However, according to the formalization of curiosity based learning infants should select stimuli systematically on the basis of their prior knowledge in order to optimize learning. It is therefore possible that the results from experimental studies represent an epiphenomenon of the underlying curiosity-based learning process. Likewise, computational models of infant learning which aim to reveal the mechanisms underlying the learning process rely on sequential presentation of stimuli in a way similar to the experimental work and might therefore be unable to capture curiosity as a driver for learning.

Here I will discuss how infants' display of learning in traditional tasks relates to potential curiosity based learning. I also will discuss how the formalization of curiosity relates to learning in neural network models, and I hope to be able to present some pilot data from curiosity based modelling.

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