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"Butterfly effects" in Perceptual development

Tuesday 12 October 2021, 4.00PM to 5.00pm

Speaker(s): Professor Pawan Sinha, MIT

How might atypicalities in early perceptual development impact later proficiencies? We consider one sliver of what is likely to be a complex and multifaceted answer. In the specific context of children who have been treated for congenital blindness, we and others have found some consistent deficits in post-operative recognition performance. These deficits have typically been attributed to the pre-operative deprivation that the children experienced during 'sensitive periods' of development. However, we suggest that there may be an additional factor at work: Differences in *post-operative* visual experiences of newly-sighted children relative to those of typically developing infants. These differences may skew early visual learning and lead to abnormalities in recognition processes. We call these 'butterfly effects' given that they involve potentially large consequences of small initial perturbations in visual experience. Such hypothesized butterfly effects have relevance for three goals: accounting for observed deficits in newly-sighted children, understanding why some aspects of normal visual development unfold in the way they do, and formulating effective training regimens for computational vision systems.

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Location: online seminar