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Media Advisory 10-025

Learning and the "Social Brain"

In an Oct. 13 Distinguished Lecture at NSF, an internationally recognized early language and brain development researcher asks how social learning in young children can trigger other types of learning

Photo of Patricia K. Kuhl.

Patricia Kuhl discusses new findings that provide the foundation for a new science of learning.

October 8, 2010

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

New findings suggest that at birth, young children are prepared to learn from so-called social agents--other members in a group or society. Findings also suggest the "social brain" enhances and constrains social learning over a person's lifetime. But, beyond learning social skills, can social interaction be used to acquire specific types of learning?

In this National Science Foundation (NSF) Distinguished Lecture, Patricia Kuhl, director of NSF's LIFE Science of Learning Center,  says yes.  Kuhl discusses how studies of language acquisition through live social interaction led to the theoretical formulation that social interaction acts as a "gate" that triggers other types of learning.

Ultimately, Kuhl will show how these new findings provide the foundation for a new science of learning that promises to transform the practice of education.

This Distinguished Lecture is sponsored by NSF's Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences.

What:NSF SBE Distinguished Lecture

Who:Patricia Kuhl, Director of NSF's LIFE Science of Learning Center and co-director of the Institute for Brain and Learning Sciences at the University of Washington

When:October 13, 2010 at 11 a.m. EDT

Where:Room 110, Stafford I
4121 Wilson Boulevard - Room 595
Arlington, Va. 22230

Metro:Orange Line to Ballston

Note: Visitors must RSVP to Bobbie Mixon in the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs to register for a visitor pass for access to the Stafford I building. Contact Bobbie at or (703) 292-8485.


Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8485, email:

Program Contacts
Joan Straumanis, NSF, (703) 292-4589, email:
Jennifer L. Thornhill, NSF, (703) 292-7273, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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