Developing Behavioral Flexibility

Speaker: Catherine Hartley


Throughout our lives, we rapidly acquire knowledge through experience. This knowledge is structured — it reflects regularities in our environments such as sequential relations between events, contingencies between actions and outcomes, and similarities across contexts. Across development, we exploit this structure to support the flexible pursuit of valued outcomes. In this talk, I will present studies examining at the cognitive, neural, and computational levels how the learning, memory, and decision-making processes that support or constrain adaptive behavioral flexibility change over the course of development from childhood to adulthood. I will show that development confers marked changes in the cognitive representations engaged during learning and discuss how these changes may optimize behavior for an individual’s developmental stage.

About the speaker:

Catherine Hartley is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University. She received her B.S. in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University and her PhD in Psychology from New York University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, joining their faculty from 2014-2016 as an Assistant Professor before returning to NYU in July 2016. Her research focuses on characterizing the cognitive representations and computations that underpin learning and decision-making from childhood to adulthood, and how dynamic changes in brain circuitry influence their development. A goal of her work is to understand how biases in learning and decision-making may contribute to psychiatric vulnerability or resilience at different developmental stages.

Time and place:

May 19, 2021, 4:00 p.m. CEST

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