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Learning to Attend, Attending to Learn: Neurological, Behavioral, and Computational Perspectives

Learning to Attend, Attending to Learn Workshop




What is the interaction between attention and learning? 

TDLC investigator Gedeon Deak and co-organizers Rachel Wu and Richard Aslin (both University of Rochester) and Rebecca Nako (University of London) addressed this important question in a recent event: The “Learning to Attend, Attending to Learn Workshop: Neurological, Behavioral, and Computational Perspectives.”  The aim of this gathering, held in San Diego on Nov. 6-7, 2013, was "to encourage cross-talk among researchers from different fields asking the same questions." This interdisciplinary approach provided critical insights and opportunities for interaction and collaboration. 

The event, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and by the UCSD Division of Social Sciences, the Cognitive Science Society, Brain Products and Rochester U. Center for Visual Sciences, featured some of the top researchers in the world who are trying to understand the relation between attention and learning (e.g. studies on how attention constrains learning and vice versa). Twenty six leaders of attention-learning research presented studies. Their research utilized methods that include cognitive ethnography and video analysis, eye-tracking, EEG, MEG, fNIRS, fMRI, and single-cell recording. They discussed common themes and questions across disciplines, with eminent professors leading discussions to foster cross-talk among the participating scientists. Gedeon Deak, one of the organizers of the event, explains, "Workshop topics are relevant to education, skill learning, neuroscience, and everyday performance."

Gedeon DeakDeak continues, explaining the motivation for the event: "There is a huge amount of research on learning and a huge amount on attention. So it is surprising how little research exists on how one influences the other. After all, any teacher could tell you that they are greatly interdependent. My co-organizers and I believe that part of the problem is a lack of communication between researchers working in different disciplines, testing different populations using different methods, and operating with different theoretical frameworks. We want to spark a lot of cross-talk and mutual understanding among researchers trying to understand the crucial connections between learning and attention processes."

Other TDLC and UCSD participants included Jeff Elman, Terry Sejnowski, and several TDLC trainees who presented posters. For more information, please go to the website: http://www.attention-learning.com/.