Richard N. Aslin

Yale University

Election Year: 2013
Primary Section: 52, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Membership Type: Member


Richard N. Aslin is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester (NY).  He is a developmental psychologist who studies how human infants, children, and adults perceive and attend to visual and auditory information and use that information to learn about their environment, especially in the domain of language.  Aslin was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1949 and received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Michigan State University in 1971 and his doctorate in child psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1975.  He was on the faculty of Indiana University before moving to the University of Rochester in 1984.  He has served as chair of the department of psychology, dean of arts and sciences, vice provost and dean of the college, and director of the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging.  Aslin is immediate past president of the International Society for Infant Studies and is currently the chair of Section J (psychology) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Research Interests

Aslin uses a variety of techniques to study how young infants, children, and adults learn from structured stimulus materials created in the lab to control for many extraneous variables that are present in naturally occurring stimuli.  His research on implicit mechanisms of learning, devoid of reinforcement or feedback, established a general approach that has been called statistical learning because it entails sensitivity to the distributional properties of perceptual input.  Using eye-trackers to study how attention is allocated to visual and auditory input, Aslin has documented the remarkably ability of infants to learn the underlying structure of information, to anticipate upcoming information, and to combine difference sources of information.  He has also used neuroimaging techniques to reveal which areas of the infant and adult brain are activated during statistical learning.  His studies of language processing in infants, children, and adults have revealed remarkably sophisticated abilities to discriminate speech sounds, adapt to new speech categories, segment words from fluent speech, recognize the meanings of words, and form grammatical categories.  His studies of visual learning have uncovered powerful mechanisms for extracting new features that are combined to form a hierarchy of representations for both familiar and novel objects and scenes.

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