Junyi Chu 褚均怡

Junyi Chu is a 6th year PhD candidate at MIT, advised by Dr. Laura Schulz in the department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences. She is interested in how humans think and learn, especially the dynamic interaction of solving problems and making new ones: Where do ideas come from? How do we identify and select ideas, problems, and plans that are worth pursuing? How do we make these judgments with so little evidence (in fact, we often choose goals before knowing what might happen)? Shes conjectures that our ability to represent, generate and evaluate problems provides a useful high-level constraint on thinking and learning. She uses behavioral experiments with children and adults to characterize these abilities. Her current work focuses on exploratory play as a context for flexible goal-setting and planning.

She is also committed to promoting inclusion and diversity in academic spaces through making science open and accessible, and mentoring students from all backgrounds.

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In praise of folly: goals, play, and problem-making.

Few phenomena in childhood are as compelling or mystifying as play. While many animals play, human play is distinguished by the sheer diversity of goals that we pursue, even as adults. These goals can often seem idiosyncratic and unlikely to pay off in immediately useful ways. What is so rewarding about setting and pursuing arbitrary goals, and what is the value of this behavior for human cognition more generally? I will present behavioral studies of play and decision-making aimed at tackling these questions about the nature and development of exploration and intrinsic motivation.