Exploration and exploitation in infants’ curiosity-based learning

Altmann, E. C. and Bazhydai, Marina and Westermann, Gert (2021) Exploration and exploitation in infants’ curiosity-based learning. In: 6th Lancaster Conference of Infant and Child Development 2021, 2021-08-252021-08-27, virtual.

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Infants explore the world to learn about it based on their intrinsically motivated curiosity. However, the mechanisms underlying such exploratory behaviour are largely unknown. Here, we will address this question by investigating infants’ choices of exploring diverse information vs. exploiting more familiar information in a gaze-contingent eye-tracking task. In our initial study, 10-month-old infants will be introduced to two novel stimulus categories with 30 exemplars each (Fribbles, TarrLab). Two identical “houses” will be presented on a computer screen, and a new exemplar from either category will be revealed when the infant fixates on the corresponding house. This design will enable us to distinguish between exploration – switching from one category to the other – and exploitation – consecutively triggering exemplars from the same category. In follow-on studies, we will test older children as well as adults, who will be able to trigger exemplar presentations via key presses. Across age groups, we will measure the number, speed, and sequence of trigger-events, as well as the switches between categories. Thereby, we will investigate to what extent exploratory behaviour is comparable across participants and if there are systematic individual differences between weighing exploration against exploitation. As the outcome of this research, we expect to better understand the developmental trajectory of curious, active exploration including possible individual differences. Additionally, we plan to explore whether such characteristics are stable over time and whether they relate to other measures of personality and cognitive development. In conclusion, we aim to build a comprehensive new body of research crucially integrating a universal perspective on infant curiosity with a focus on individual differences (PerezEdgar et al., 2020).

Item Type:
Contribution to Conference (Poster)
Journal or Publication Title:
6th Lancaster Conference of Infant and Child Development 2021
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Deposited On:
15 Nov 2022 09:50
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 05:48