Infant learning and memory (and why it’s like being in your first year at University)


Friday, 20 October, 2017 -
13:00 to 14:00


Room 1616, Mathews Building, UNSW Kensington campus


School of Psychology

Type of event: 


Audience / Guests: 

Public / All

When you transition to a new environment, such as attending university for the first time, you are faced with numerous learning challenges. What are the key details to attend to and remember from your new learning experiences, and how does this new knowledge fit together with what you already know? Infants are constantly facing these challenges, and memory retrieval often fails at young ages because the conditions present at retrieval are not identical to those that were present at encoding. Being able to retrieve memories in the presence of differing cues (across people, contexts, stimulus features) helps avoid unnecessary re-learning when potentially useful knowledge is already stored in memory. In this talk A/Prof Jane Herbert will discuss research with the deferred imitation paradigm examining how infants attend to dynamic learning events and how maturation and environmental experiences shape the flexibility of the memory representation. A/Prof Herbert will also use these findings to start a conversation about how research on the richness of early learning abilities, rather than a focus on the briefness of long term recall, has an important role to play in informing early educational policy.


A/Prof Jane Herbert conducts experimental research in cognitive and developmental psychology, specialising in understanding and facilitating young children’s learning and memory abilities. Her research considers how maturation and environmental experiences impact on the child’s developing brain and cognitive abilities, and on parent-child interactions. A/Prof Herbert is an international expert on how young children begin to recall and use knowledge in new situations, and how we can provide young children with more flexible, and ultimately more useful, knowledge. In addition to conducting basic experimental research, she also works within multidisciplinary and international research teams, developing and evaluating resources for the enhancement of parental knowledge on child health behaviours and for medical education programmes for children and families. She previously held a position at the University of Sheffield, UK.