The rational use of causal inference to guide reinforcement learning strengthens with age

  • Alexandra O. Cohen
  • Kate Nussenbaum
  • Catherine A. Hartley


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  • Capturing developmental and learning-induced brain dynamics is extremely challenging as changes occur interactively across multiple levels and emerging functions. Different levels include the (social) environment, cognitive and behavioral levels, structural and functional brain changes, and genetics, while functions include domains such as math, reading, and executive function. Here, we report the insights that emerged from the workshop “Capturing Developmental Brain Dynamics”, organized to bring together multidisciplinary approaches to integrate data on development and learning across different levels, functions, and time points. During the workshop, current main gaps in our knowledge and tools were identified including the need for: (1) common frameworks, (2) longitudinal, large-scale, multisite studies using representative participant samples, (3) understanding interindividual variability, (4) explicit distinction of understanding versus predicting, and (5) reproducible research. After illustrating interactions across levels and functions during development, we discuss the identified gaps and provide solutions to advance the capturing of developmental brain dynamics.

    • Nienke van Atteveldt
    • Maaike Vandermosten
    • Milene Bonte
    Meeting Report Open Access
  • Education is indispensable for the flourishing of people from all backgrounds and stages of life. However, given the accelerating demographic, environmental, economical, socio-political, and technological changes—and their associated risks and opportunities—there is increasing consensus that our current educational systems are falling short and that we need to repurpose education and rethink the organization of learning to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) “Futures of Education” initiative was formally launched at the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 to provide such a vision of education for the future. The International Scientific and Evidence-based Education (ISEE) Assessment synthesizes knowledge streams generated by different communities and stakeholders at all levels and scales and will thereby essentially contribute to re-envisioning this future of education. The overall aim of the ISEE Assessment is to pool the expertise from a broad range of knowledge holders and stakeholders to undertake a scientifically robust and evidence-based assessment in an open and inclusive manner of our current educational systems and its necessary reforms. In this commentary, we discuss the aims and goals of the ISEE Assessment. We describe how the ISEE Assessment will address key questions on the purpose of education and what, how, where and when we learn, and evaluate the alignment of today’s education and theory of learning with the current and forthcoming needs and challenges and to inform policymaking for future education.

    • Anantha Duraiappah
    • Nienke van Atteveldt
    • Edward Vickers
    Comment Open Access

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