Autonomy in action: Linking the act of looking to memory formation in infancy via dynamic neural fields

Sammy Perone, John P. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Looking is a fundamental exploratory behavior by which infants acquire knowledge about the world. In theories of infant habituation, however, looking as an exploratory behavior has been deemphasized relative to the reliable nature with which looking indexes active cognitive processing. We present a new theory that connects looking to the dynamics of memory formation and formally implement this theory in a Dynamic Neural Field model that learns autonomously as it actively looks and looks away from a stimulus. We situate this model in a habituation task and illustrate the mechanisms by which looking, encoding, working memory formation, and long-term memory formation give rise to habituation across multiple stimulus and task contexts. We also illustrate how the act of looking and the temporal dynamics of learning affect each other. Finally, we test a new hypothesis about the sources of developmental differences in looking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-60
Number of pages60
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

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