The Department of Psychology and the Cognitive Behavioral Sciences (CBS) Colloquium Series will present a talk, titled “Learning to Forget, Forgetting to Learn: How Memory Shapes Cognitive Development,” with Haley Vlach, Ph.D., Friday, September 29, at 2 p.m. in 48 DeGarmo Hall. Vlach is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The early years of life are an exciting period of growth and change in cognition. Children learn a seemingly infinite amount of new information despite limitations in their basic cognitive capacities, such as attention and memory abilities. Vlach will start the talk by outlining ways in which children’s rapid forgetting constrains cognitive development. However, the majority of the talk will review research supporting the hypothesis that forgetting is actually promoting children’s learning.

In particular, Vlach will argue that forgetting acts as a form of abstraction, which promotes children’s ability to generalize knowledge across contexts. She will end the talk by discussing the possibility that what makes children incredible learners is not simply that they quickly learn to encode information in the world, but that they rapidly forget the large amount of irrelevant information they learn.

CBS Colloquium Series

The CBS Colloquium Series brings high-caliber researchers to the Illinois State University campus to share their work with the local academic community. Individual faculty members invite speakers to campus based on their interests. The Department of Psychology also invites alumni to speak in the series in an effort to maintain strong connections with former students and provide them with a chance to pass on their knowledge to current students. The series provides both faculty and students with a variety of professional development opportunities and allows students to network with professionals in their field of study.

This speaker series is sponsored by the Department of Psychology. To support the Department of Psychology and help enhance its educational mission with advanced teaching methods, guest speakers, and more opportunities for students to learn through research experiences, please consider making a gift to the department through the Illinois State University Foundation.

If you need a special accommodation to participate in this program, call the Department of Psychology at (309) 439-8651. Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.