Across three experiments featuring naturalistic concepts (psychology concepts) and naïve learners, we extend previous research showing an effect of the sequence of study on learning outcomes, by demonstrating that the sequence of examples during study changes the representation the learner creates of the study materials. We compared participants’ performance in test tasks requiring different representations and evaluated which sequence yields better learning in which type of tests. We found that interleaved study, in which examples from different concepts are mixed, leads to the creation of relatively interrelated concepts that are represented by contrast to each other and based on discriminating properties. Conversely, blocked study, in which several examples of the same concept are presented together, leads to the creation of relatively isolated concepts that are represented in terms of their central and characteristic properties. These results argue for the integrated investigation of the benefits of different sequences of study as depending on the characteristics of the study and testing situation.
Dubova, M., Moskvichev, A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2020). Reinforcement Communication Learning in Different Social Network Structures. International Conference on Machine Learning, 1st Language and Reinforcement Learning Workshop.
Social network structure is one of the key determinants of human language evolution. Previous work has shown that the network of social interactions shapes decentralized learning in human groups, leading to the emergence of different kinds of communicative conventions. We examined the effects of social network organization on the properties of communication systems emerging in decentralized, multi-agent reinforcement learning communities. We found that the global connectivity of a social network drives the convergence of populations on shared and symmetric communication systems, preventing the agents from forming many local “dialects”. Moreover, the agent’s degree is inversely related to the consistency of its use of communicative conventions. These results show the importance of the basic properties of social network structure on reinforcement communication learning and suggest a new interpretation of findings on human convergence on word conventions.
Strait, M., Lier, F., Bernotat, J., Wachsmuth, S., Eyssel, F., Goldstone, R. L., & Sabanovic, S. (2020). A three-site reproduction of the Joint Simon Effect with the NAO robot. 15th Annual International Conference on Human Robot Interaction. Cambridge, England. Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) & Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). (pp. 103-111). New York: ACM.
The generalizability of empirical research depends on the reproduction of findings across settings and populations. Consequently, generalizations demand resources beyond that which is typically available to any one laboratory. With collective interest in the joint Simon effect (JSE) – a phenomenon that suggests people work more effectively with humanlike (as opposed to mechanomorphic) robots – we pursued a multi-institutional research cooperation between robotics researchers, social scientists, and software engineers. To evaluate the robustness of the JSE in dyadic human-robot interactions, we constructed an experimental infrastructure for exact, lab-independent reproduction of robot behavior. Deployment of our infrastructure across three institutions with distinct research orientations (well-resourced versus resource-constrained) provides initial demonstration of the success of our approach and the degree to which it can alleviate technical barriers to HRI reproducibility. Moreover, with the three deployments situated in culturally distinct contexts (Germany, the U.S. Midwest, and the Mexico-U.S. Border), observation of a JSE at each site provides evidence its generalizability across settings and populations.
Setzler, M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2020). Coordination and consonance between interacting, improvising musicians. Open Mind: Discoveries in Cognitive Science, 4, 88—101. https://doi.org/10.1162/opmi_a_00036.
Joint action (JA) is ubiquitous in our cognitive lives. From basketball teams to teams of surgeons, humans often coordinate with one another to achieve some common goal. Idealized laboratory studies of group behavior have begun to elucidate basic JA mechanisms, but little is understood about how these mechanisms scale up in more sophisticated and open-ended JA that occurs in the wild. We address this gap by examining coordination in a paragon domain for creative joint expression: improvising jazz musicians. Coordination in jazz music subserves an aesthetic goal: the generation of a collective musical expression comprising coherent, highly nuanced musical structure (e.g. rhythm, harmony). In our study, dyads of professional jazz pianists improvised in a “coupled”, mutually adaptive condition, and an “overdubbed” condition which precluded mutual adaptation, as occurs in common studio recording practices. Using a model of musical tonality, we quantify the flow of rhythmic and harmonic information between musicians as a function of interaction condition. Our analyses show that mutually adapting dyads achieve greater temporal alignment and produce more consonant harmonies. These musical signatures of coordination were preferred by independent improvisers and naive listeners, who gave higher quality ratings to coupled interactions despite being blind to condition. We present these results and discuss their implications for music technology and JA research more generally.
Setzler, M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2020). Quantifying Emergent, Dynamic Tonal Coordination in Collaborative Musical Improvisation. Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 461-466). Toronto, CA. Cognitive Science Society.
Groups of interacting individuals often coordinate in service of abstract goals, such as the alignment of mental representations in conversation, or the generation of new ideas in group brainstorming sessions. What are the mechanisms and dynamics of abstract coordination? This study examines coordination in a sophisticated paragon domain: collaboratively improvising jazz musicians. Remarkably, freely improvising jazz ensembles collectively produce coherent tonal structure (i.e. melody and harmony) in real time performance without previously established harmonic forms. We investigate how tonal structure emerges out of interacting musicians, and how this structure is constrained by underlying patterns of coordination. Dyads of professional jazz pianists were recorded improvising in two conditions of interaction: a ‘coupled’ condition in which they could mutually adapt to one another, and an ‘overdubbed’ condition which precluded mutual adaptation. Using a computational model of musical tonality, we show that this manipulation effected the directed flow of tonal information amongst pianists, who could mutually adapt to one another’s notes in coupled trials, but not in overdubbed trials. Consequently, musicians were better able to harmonize with one another in coupled trials, and this ability increased throughout the course of improvised performance. We present these results and discuss their implications for music technology and joint action research more generally.
Campbell, C., Izquierdo, E. & Goldstone, R. L. (2020). How much to copy from others? The role of partial copying in social learning. Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 916-922). Toronto, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
One of the major ways that people engage in adaptive problem solving is by copying the solutions of others. Most of the work on this field has focused on three questions: when to copy, who to copy from, and what to copy. However, how much to copy has been relatively less explored. In the current research, we are interested in the consequences for a group when its members engage in social learning strategies with different tendencies to copy entire or partial solutions and different complexities of search problems. We also consider different network topologies that affect the solutions visible to each member. Using a computational model of collective problem solving, we demonstrate that strategies where social learning involves partial copying outperform strategies where individuals copy entire solutions. We analyze the exploration/exploitation dynamics of these social learning strategies under the different conditions.
Avery, J. E., Goldstone, R. L., & Jones, M. N. (2020). Reconstructing Maps from Text. Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 557-563). Toronto, CA. Cognitive Science Society.
Previous research has demonstrated that Distributional Semantic Models (DSMs) are capable of reconstructing maps from news corpora (Louwerse & Zwaan, 2009) and novels (Louwerse & Benesh, 2012). The capacity for reproducing maps is surprising since DSMs notoriously lack perceptual grounding (De Vega et al., 2012). In this paper we investigate the statistical sources required in language to infer maps, and resulting constraints placed on mechanisms of semantic representation. Study 1 brings word co-occurrence under experimental control to demonstrate that direct co-occurrence in language is necessary for traditional DSMs to successfully reproduce maps. Study 2 presents an instance-based DSM that is capable of reconstructing maps independent of the frequency of co-occurrence of city names.
A large literature suggests that the way we process information is influenced by the categories that we have learned. We examined whether, when we try to uniquely encode items in workingmemory, the information encoded depends on the other stimuli being simultaneously learned. Participants were required to memorize unknown aliens, presented one at the time, for immediate recognition of their features. Some aliens, called twins, were organized into pairs that shared every feature (nondiscriminative feature) except one (discriminative feature), while some other aliens, called hermits, did not share feature. We reasoned that if people develop unsupervised categories by creating a category for a pair of aliens, we should observe better feature identification performance for nondiscriminative features compared to hermit features, but not compared to discriminative features. On the contrary, if distinguishing features draw attention, we should observe better performance when a discriminative rather than nondiscriminative feature was probed. Overall, our results suggest that when items share features, people code items in working memory by focusing on similarities between items, establishing clusters of items in an unsupervised fashion not requiring feedback on cluster membership.
In peer instruction, instructors pose a challenging question to students, students answer the question individually, students work with a partner in the class to discuss their answers, and finally students answer the question again. A large body of evidence shows that peer instruction benefits student learning. To determine the mechanism for these benefits, we collected semester-long data from six classes, involving a total of 208 undergraduate students being asked a total of 86 different questions related to their course content. For each question, students chose their answer individually, reported their confidence, discussed their answers with their partner, and then indicated their possibly revised answer and confidence again. Overall, students were more accurate and confident after discussion than before. Initially correct students were more likely to keep their answers than initially incorrect students, and this tendency was partially but not completely attributable to differences in confidence. We discuss the benefits of peer instruction in terms of differences in the coherence of explanations, social learning, and the contextual factors that influence confidence and accuracy.
How, and how well, do people switch between exploration and exploitation to search for and accumulate resources? We study the decision processes underlying such exploration/exploitation trade-offs using a novel card selection task that captures the common situation of searching among multiple resources (e.g., jobs) that can be exploited without depleting. With experience, participants learn to switch appropriately between exploration and exploitation and approach optimal performance. We model participants’ behavior on this task with random, threshold, and sampling strategies, and find that a linear decreasing threshold rule best fits participants’ results. Further evidence that participants use decreasing threshold-based strategies comes from reaction time differences between exploration and exploitation; however, participants themselves report nondecreasing thresholds. Decreasing threshold strategies that “front-load” exploration and switch quickly to exploitation are particularly effective in resource accumulation tasks, in contrast to optimal stopping problems like the Secretary Problem requiring longer exploration.
Best, R. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2019). Bias to (and away from) the Extreme: Comparing Two Models of Categorical Perception Effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 7, 1166-1176.
Categorical Perception (CP) effects manifest as faster or more accurate discrimination between objects that come from different categories compared to objects that come from the same category, controlling for the physical differences between the objects. The most popular explanations of CP effects have relied on perceptual warping causing stimuli near a category boundary to appear more similar to stimuli within their own category and/ or less similar to stimuli from other categories. Hanley and Roberson (2011), on the basis of a pattern not previously noticed in CP experiments, proposed an explanation of CP effects that relies not on perceptual warping, but instead on inconsistent usage of category labels. Experiments 1 and 2 in this paper show a pattern opposite the one Hanley and Roberson pointed out. Experiment 3, using the same stimuli but with different choice statistics (i.e., different probabilities of each face being the target), obtains the same pattern as the one Hanley and Roberson showed. Simulations show that both category label and perceptual models are able to reproduce the patterns of results from both experiments, provided they include information about the choice statistics. This suggests two conclusions. First, the results described by Hanley and Roberson should not be taken as evidence in favor of a category label model. Second, given that participants did not receive feedback on their choices, there must be some mechanism by which participants monitor their own choices and adapt to the choice statistics present in the experiment.
Cognitive science continues to make a compelling case for having a coherent, unique, and fundamental subject of inquiry: What is the nature of minds, where do they come from, and how do they work? Central to this inquiry is the notion of agents that have goals, one of which is their own persistence, who use dynamically constructed knowledge to act in the world to achieve those goals. An agentive perspective explains why a special class of systems have a cluster of co-occurring capacities that enable them to exhibit adaptive behavior in a complex environment: perception, attention, memory, representation, planning, and communication. As an intellectual endeavor, cognitive science may not have achieved a hard core of uncontested assumptions that Lakatos (1978) identifies as emblematic of a successful research program, but there are alternative conceptions according to which cognitive science has been successful. First, challenges of the early, core tenet of “Mind as Computation” have helped put cognitive science on a stronger foundation—one that incorporates relations between minds and their environments. Second, even if a full cross-disciplinary theoretic consensus is elusive, cognitive science can inspire distant, deep, and transformative connections between pairs of fields. To be intellectually vital, cognitive science need not resemble a traditional discipline with its associated insularity and unchallenged assumptions. Instead, there is strength and resilience in the diverse perspectives and methods that cognitive science assembles together. This interdisciplinary enterprise is fragile and perhaps inherently unstable, as the looming absorption of cognitive science into psychology shows. Still, for many researchers, the excitement and benefits of triangulating on the nature of minds by integrating diverse cases cannot be secured by a stable discipline with an uncontested core of assumptions.
Humans show a striking penchant for creating tools to benefit our own thought processes. Andy Clark (2003, 2008) has convincingly argued that the tools that we as humans recruit become integrated parts of an extended cognitive system that includes us as just one component. By extending cognition beyond our brains, Clark presents an “embiggened” perspective on what it means to be a cognizer and a person more generally. This perspectival shift runs counter to some recent forms of argumentation that in effect work to minimize personhood. For example, arguments for lack of personal culpability can take the form of “It wasn’t my fault. It was the fault of my ___ ” to be filled in, perhaps, by “upbringing,” “genes,” “neurochemistry,” “diet,” or “improperly functioning amygdala.” Instead, Clark (see also Dennett 1989) offers the opposite line of argumentation, according to which we consist not only of our amygdalae and hippocampi but also potentially our glasses, notebooks, friends, supporting technologies, and culture.
Like many other scientific disciplines, psychological science has felt the impact of the big-data revolution. This impact arises from the meeting of three forces: data availability, data heterogeneity, and data analyzability. In terms of data availability, consider that for decades, researchers relied on the Brown Corpus of about one million words (Kučera & Francis, 1969). Modern resources, in contrast, are larger by six orders of magnitude (e.g., Google’s 1T corpus) and are available in a growing number of languages. About 240 billion photos have been uploaded to Facebook,1 and Instagram receives over 100 million new photos each day.2 The largescale digitization of these data has made it possible in principle to analyze and aggregate these resources on a previously unimagined scale. Heterogeneity refers to the availability of different types of data. For example, recent progress in automatic image recognition is owed not just to improvements in algorithms and hardware, but arguably more to the ability to merge large collections of images with linguistic labels (produced by crowdsourced human taggers) that serve as training data to the algorithms. Making use of heterogeneous data sources often depends on their standardization. For example, the ability to combine demographic and grammatical data about thousands of languages led to the finding that languages spoken by more people have simpler morphologies (Lupyan & Dale, 2010 ). The ability to combine these data types would have been substantially more difficult without the existence of standardized language and country codes that could be used to merge the different data sources. Finally, analyzability must be ensured, for without appropriate tools to process and analyze different types of data, the “ data” are merely bytes.
Tump, A. N., Wu, C. M., Bouhlel, I., & Goldstone, R. L. (2019).The Evolutionary Dynamics of Cooperation in Collective Search. Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 883-889). Montreal, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
How does cooperation arise in an evolutionary context? We approach this problem using a collective search paradigm where interactions are dynamic and there is competition for rewards. Using evolutionary simulations, we find that the unconditional sharing of information can be an evolutionary advantageous strategy without the need for conditional strategies or explicit reciprocation. Shared information acts as a recruitment signal and facilitates the formation of a self-organized group. Thus, the improved search efficiency of the collective bestows byproduct benefits onto the original sharer. A key mechanism is a visibility radius, where individuals have unconditional access to information about neighbors within a limited distance. Our results show that for a variety of initial conditions—including populations initially devoid of prosocial individuals—and across both static and dynamic fitness landscapes, we find strong selection pressure to evolve unconditional sharing.
Setzler, M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2019). Patterns of coordination in simultaneously and sequentially improvising jazz musicians. Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1035-1040). Montreal, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
In Joint Action (JA) tasks, individuals must coordinate their actions so as to achieve some desirable outcome at the grouplevel. Group function is an emergent outcome of ongoing, mutually constraining interactions between agents. Here we investigate JA in dyads of improvising jazz pianists. Participants’ musical output is recorded in one of two conditions: a real condition, in which two pianists improvise together as they typically would, and a virtual condition, in which a single pianist improvises along with a “ghost partner” – a recording of another pianist taken from a previous real trial. The conditions are identical except for that in real trials subjects are mutually coupled to one another, whereas there is only unidirectional influence in virtual trials (i.e. recording to musician). We quantify ways in which the rhythmic structures spontaneously produced in these improvisations is shaped by mutual coupling of co-performers. Musical signatures of underlying coordination patterns are also shown to parallel the subjective experience of improvisers, who preferred playing in trials with bidirectional influence despite not explicitly knowing which condition they had played in. These results illuminate how mutual coupling shapes emergent, group-level structure in the creative, open-ended and fundamentally collaborative domain of expert musical improvisation.
Sloman, S. J., Goldstone, R. L., & Gonzalez, C. (2019). Complex exploration dynamics from simple heuristics in a collective learning environment. Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2818-2824). Montreal, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
Effective problem solving requires both exploration and exploitation. We analyze data from a group problem-solving task to gain insight into how people use information from past experiences and from others to achieve explore-exploit trade-offs in complex environments. The behavior we observe is consistent with the use of simple, reinforcement-based heuristics. Participants increase exploration immediately after experiencing a low payoff, and decrease exploration immediately after experiencing a high or improved payoff. We suggest that whether an outcome is perceived as “high” or “low” is a dynamic function of the outcome information available to participants. The degree to which the distribution of observed information reflects the true range of possible outcomes plays an important role in determining whether or not this heuristic is adaptive in a given environment.
Andrade-Lotero, E., & Goldstone, R. L. (2019). Self-Organized Division of Cognitive Labor. Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 91-97). Montreal, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
The division of labor phenomenon has been observed with respect to both manual and cognitive labor, but there is no clear understanding of the intra- and inter-individual mechanisms that allow for its emergence, especially when there are multiple divisions possible and communication is limited. Situations fitting this description include individuals in a group splitting a geographical region for resource harvesting without explicit negotiation, or a couple tacitly negotiating the hour of the day for each to shower so that there is sufficient hot water. We studied this phenomenon by means of an iterative two-person game where multiple divisions are possible, but no explicit communication is allowed. Our results suggest that there are a limited number of biases toward divisions of labor, which serve as attractors in the dynamics of dyadic coordination. However, unlike Schelling’s focal points, these biases do not attract players’ attention at the onset of the interaction, but are only revealed and consolidated by the in-game dynamics of dyadic interaction.
Lara-Dammer, F., Hofstadter, D. R., & Goldstone, R. L. (2019). A Computational Model of Scientific Discovery in a Very Simple World, Aiming at Psychological Realism. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, 1-22. 10.1080/0952813X.2019.1592234
We propose a computational model of human scientific discovery and perception of the world. As a prerequisite for such a model, we simulate dynamic microworlds in which physical events take place, as well as an observer that visually perceives and makes interpretations of events in the microworld. Moreover, we give the observer the ability to actively conduct experiments in order to gain evidence about natural regularities in the world. We have broken up the description of our project into two pieces. The first piece deals with the interpreter constructing relatively simple visual descriptions of objects and collisions within a context. The second phase deals with the interpreter positing relationships among the entities, winding up with elaborated construals and conjectures of mathematical laws governing the world. This paper focuses only on the second phase. As is the case with most human scientific observation, observations are subject to interpretation, and the discoveries are influenced by these interpretations.
Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2019). When does interleaving practice improve learning? In J. Dunlosky & K. A. Rawson (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Cognition and Education. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. (pp. 411-436).
As you flip through the pages of this handbook you will notice that the content does not seem to be randomly organized. The content of the handbook is sequenced in a particular way: foundations before general strategies, background before applications, etc. The editors envisaged a sequence of topics, the authors of each topic envisaged a sequence of information in each chapter, and so on. We selected a particular sequence because we considered it to be effective. Deciding how to sequence information takes place all the time in educational contexts, from educators deciding how to organize their syllabus to educational technology designers deciding how to organize a piece of educational software, from handbook editors and writers deciding how to organize their materials, to students making decisions as to how to organize their study. One might imagine that as long as all students study the same materials, regardless of the sequence in which they study it, they will all learn the same information. This could not be further from the truth. In this chapter, we will review evidence of how and why the sequence of study changes what is learned. In doing so, we will try to uncover the powerful ways in which sequence can improve or deter learning.
The utility of our actions frequently depends upon the beliefs and behavior of other agents. Thankfully, through experience, we learn norms and conventions that provide stable expectations for navigating our social world. Here, we review several distinct influences on their content and distribution. At the level of individuals locally interacting in dyads, success depends on rapidly adapting pre-existing norms to the local context. Hence, norms are shaped by complex cognitive processes involved in learning and social reasoning. At the population level, norms are influenced by intergenerational transmission and the structure of the social network. As human social connectivity continues to increase, understanding and predicting how these levels and time scales interact to produce new norms will be crucial for improving communities.
Low-level “adaptive” and higher-level “sophisticated” human reasoning processes have been proposed to play opposing roles in the emergence of unpredictable collective behaviors such as crowd panics, traffic jams, and market bubbles. While adaptive processes are widely recognized drivers of emergent social complexity, complementary theories of sophistication predict that incentives, education, and other inducements to rationality will suppress it. We show in a series of multiplayer laboratory experiments that, rather than suppressing complex social dynamics, sophisticated reasoning processes can drive them. Our experiments elicit an endogenous collective behavior and show that it is driven by the human ability to recursively anticipate the reasoning of others. We identify this behavior, “sophisticated flocking”, across three games, the Beauty Contest and the “Mod Game” and “Runway Game”. In supporting our argument, we also present evidence for mental models and social norms constraining how players express their higher-level reasoning abilities. By implicating sophisticated recursive reasoning in the kind of complex dynamic that it has been predicted to suppress, we support interdisciplinary perspectives that emergent complexity is typical of even the most intelligent populations and carefully designed social systems.
Motz, B. A., Carvalho, P. F., de Leeuw, J. R., & Goldstone, R. L. (2018). Embedding experiments: staking causal inference in authentic educational contexts. Journal of Learning Analytics,5, 47-59. doi: 10.18608/jla.2018.52.4
To identify the ways teachers and educational systems can improve learning, researchers need to make causal inferences. Analyses of existing datasets play an important role in detecting causal patterns, but conducting experiments also plays an indispensable role in this research. In this article, we advocate for experiments to be embedded in real educational contexts, allowing researchers to test whether interventions such as a learning activity, new technology, or advising strategy elicit reliable improvements in authentic student behaviours and educational outcomes. Embedded experiments, wherein theoretically relevant variables are systematically manipulated in real learning contexts, carry strong benefits for making causal inferences, particularly when allied with the data rich resources of contemporary e-learning environments. Toward this goal, we offer a field guide to embedded experimentation, reviewing experimental design choices, addressing ethical concerns, discussing the importance of involving teachers, and reviewing how interventions can be deployed in a variety of contexts, at a range of scales. Causal inference is a critical component of a field that aims to improve student learning; including experimentation alongside analyses of existing data in learning analytics is the most compelling way to test causal claims.
Goldstone, R. L., Gopnik, A., Thagard, P., & Ullman, T. D. (2018). Models of human scientific discovery. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 29-30). Madison, Wisconsin: Cognitive Science Society.
The scientific understanding of scientific understanding has been a long-standing goal of cognitive science. A satisfying formal model of human scientific discovery would be a major intellectual achievement, requiring solutions to core problems in cognitive science: the creation and use of apt mental models, the prediction of the behavior of complex systems involving interactions between multiple classes of elements, high-level perception of noisy and multiply interpretable environments, and the active interrogation of a system through strategic interventions on it – namely, via experiments. Over the past decades there have been numerous attempts to build formal models that capture what Perkins (1981) calls some of the “mind’s best work” – scientific explanations for how the natural world works by systematic observation, prediction, and testing. Early work by Hebert Simon and his colleagues (Langley, Simon, Bradshaw, & Zytkow, 1987) developed production rule systems employing heuristics to tame extremely large conjoint search spaces of experiments to run and hypotheses to test. Qualitative physics approaches seek to understand physical phenomena by building non-numeric, relational models of the phenomena (Forbus, 1984). Some early connectionist models interpreted scientific explanation in terms of emerging patterns of strongly activated hypotheses that mutually support one another (Thagard, 1992).
McColeman, C., Michal, A., Goldstone, R. l., Schloss, K., Kaminski, J., & Hullman, J. (2018). Data visualization as a domain to research areas in cognitive science. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 35-36). Madison, Wisconsin: Cognitive Science Society.
How people are able to turn information in the environment into meaning is a critical question for cognitive science. That environment is increasingly data-driven. Using data to inform decisions and improve understanding of the world is a valuable component of critical thinking, and serves as the foundation of evidence-based decision making. Designing graphical representations can make those data more accessible, such that users may engage the visual system and capacity for visual pattern recognition to discern regularities and properties of data. We ultimately want to understand the connection between the initial perception of data visualizations and conceptual understanding of information. Data visualizations, broadly, are the representation of recorded values in visual form, including scientific visualizations such as brain scans, or live visualizations such as stock market monitoring; the work discussed through this symposium is of the type used in science, business, and medical settings to display data abstractly.
Bouhlel, I., Wu, C. M., Hanaki, N., & Goldstone, R. L. (2018). Sharing is not erring: Pseudo-reciprocity in collective search. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 156-161). Madison, Wisconsin: Cognitive Science Society.
Information sharing in competitive environments may seem counterintuitive, yet it is widely observed in humans and other animals. For instance, the open-source software movement has led to new and valuable technologies being released publicly to facilitate broader collaboration and further innovation. What drives this behavior and under which conditions can it be beneficial for an individual? Using simulations in both static and dynamic environments, we show that sharing information can lead to individual benefits through the mechanisms of pseudoreciprocity, whereby shared information leads to by-product benefits for an individual without the need for explicit reciprocation. Crucially, imitation with a certain level of innovation is required to avoid a tragedy of the commons, while the mechanism of a local visibility radius allows for the coordination of self-organizing collectives of agents. When these two mechanisms are present, we find robust evidence for the benefits of sharing—even when others do not reciprocate.
Yu, J., Landy, D., & Goldstone, R. L. (2018). Visual flexibility in arithmetic expressions. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2750-2755). Madison, Wisconsin: Cognitive Science Society.
We investigated whether, and in what, ways people use visual structures to evaluate mathematical expressions. We also explored the relationship between strategy use and other common measures in mathematics education. Participants organized long sum/products when visual structure was available in algebraic expressions. Two experiments showed a similar pattern: One group of participants primarily calculated from left to right, or combined identical numbers together. A second group calculated adjacent pairs. A third group tended to group terms which either produced easy sums (e.g., 6+4), or participated in a global structure. These different strategies were associated with different levels of success on the task, and, in Experiment 2, with differential math anxiety and mathematical skill. Specifically, problem solvers with lower math anxiety and higher math ability tend to group by chunks and easy calculation. These results identify an important role for the perception of coherent structure and pattern identification in mathematical reasoning.
Yu, J., Goldstone, R. L., & Landy, D. (2018). Experientially grounded learning about the roles of variability, sample size, and difference between means in statistical reasoning. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2744-2749). Madison, Wisconsin: Cognitive Science Society.
Despite its omnipresence in this information-laden society, statistics is hard. The present study explored the applicability of a grounded cognition approach to learning basic statistical concepts. Participants in 2 experiments interacted with perceptually rich computer simulations designed to foster understanding of the relations between fundamental statistical concepts and to promote the ability to reason with statistics. During training, participants were asked to estimate the probability of two samples coming from the same population, with sample size, variability, and difference between means independently manipulated. The amount of learning during training was measured by the difference between participants’ confidence judgments and those of an Ideal Observer. The amount of transfer was assessed by the increase in accuracy from a pretest to a posttest. Learning and transfer were observed when tailored guidance was given along with the perceptually salient properties. Implications of our quantitative measures of human sensitivity to statistical concepts were discussed.
Izquierdo, E. J., Campbell, C. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2018). The Great Melting Pot: generating diversity by combining solutions across a global population. Annual Meeting of Collective Intelligence. Zurich, Switzerland.
One of the major ways that people engage in adaptive problem solving is by copying or imitating the solutions of others. Imitation saves an individual time and mitigates potential risks from individual trial-and-error learning. When an individual finds a neighbor with a better solution than theirs, copying their entire solution guarantees an improvement over the individual’s current condition. However, this reduces the diversity of solutions in the group and can lead the group to getting stuck in a local optima. One alternative is to copy the neighbor’s solution only partially, although this comes at a risk for the individual. Mixing two solutions may or may not lead to an improvement over their previous solution, but mixing has the potential to allow the group to explore entirely new areas of solution space. So, although partial copying comes at a cost to the individual, under what conditions does it benefit the group? In the current research, we are interested in the consequences for the group when its members engage in social learning strategies with different tendencies to copy entire or partial solutions, with different network topologies that affect the neighbors’ solutions visible to each member, and with different complexities of search tasks.
Most maps of science use a network layout; few use a landscape metaphor. Human users are trained in reading geospatial maps, yet most have a hard time reading even simple networks. Prior work using general networks has shown that map-based visualizations increase recall accuracy of data. This paper reports the result of a comparison of two comparable renderings of the UCSD map of science that are: the original network layout and a novel hexmap that uses a landscape metaphor to layout the 554 subdisciplines grouped into 13 color-coded disciplines of science. Overlaid are HITS metrics that show the impact and transformativeness of different scientific subdisciplines. Both maps support the same interactivity, including search, filter, zoom, panning, and details on demand. Users performed memorization, search, and retrieval tasks using both maps. Results did not show any significant differences in how the two maps were remembered or used by participants. We conclude with a discussion of results and planned future work.
Goldstone, R. L., Rogosky, B. J., Pevtzow, R., & Blair, M. (2017). The construction of perceptual and semantic features during category learning. In H. Cohen & C. Lefebvre (Eds.) Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science. (pp. 851-882). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Category learning not only depends upon perceptual and semantic representations; it also leads to the generation of these representations. We describe two series of experiments that demonstrate how categorization experience alters, rather than simply uses, descriptions of objects. In the first series, participants first learned to categorize objects on the basis of particular sets of line segments. Subsequently, participants were given a perceptual part/whole judgment task. Categorization training influenced participants’ part/whole judgments, indicating that whole objects were more likely to be broken down into parts that were relevant during categorization. In the second series, correlations were created or broken between semantic features of word concepts (e.g., ferocious vs. timid and group-oriented vs. solitary animals). The best transfer was found between category learning tasks that shared the same semantic organization of concepts. Together, the experiments support models of category learning that simultaneously create the elements of categorized objects’ descriptions and associate those elements with categories.
Motz, B.A., de Leeuw, J.R., Carvalho, P.F., Liang, K.L., Goldstone, R.L. (2017). A dissociation between engagement and learning: Enthusiastic instructions fail to reliably improve performance on a memory task. PLoS ONE, 12(7): e0181775. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181775
Despite widespread assertions that enthusiasm is an important quality of effective teaching, empirical research on the effect of enthusiasm on learning and memory is mixed and largely inconclusive. To help resolve these inconsistencies, we conducted a carefully-controlled laboratory experiment, investigating whether enthusiastic instructions for a memory task would improve recall accuracy. Scripted videos, either enthusiastic or neutral, were used to manipulate the delivery of task instructions. We also manipulated the sequence of learning items, replicating the spacing effect, a known cognitive technique for memory improvement. Although spaced study reliably improved test performance, we found no reliable effect of enthusiasm on memory performance across two experiments. We did, however, find that enthusiastic instructions caused participants to respond to more item prompts, leaving fewer test questions blank, an outcome typically associated with increased task motivation. We find no support for the popular claim that enthusiastic instruction will improve learning, although it may still improve engagement. This dissociation between motivation and learning is dis- cussed, as well as its implications for education and future research on student learning.
Goldstone, R. L., Kersten, A., & Carvalho, P. F. (2017). Categorization and Concepts. In J. Wixted (Ed.) Stevens’ Handbook of Experimental Psychology and Cognitive neuroscience, Fourth Edition, Volume Three: Language & Thought. New Jersey: Wiley. (pp. 275-317).
Concepts are the building blocks of thought. They are critically involved when we reason, make inferences, and try to generalize our previous experiences to new situations. Behind every word in every language lies a concept, although there are concepts, like the small plastic tubes attached to the ends of shoelaces, that we are familiar with and can think about even if we do not know that they are called aglets . Concepts are indispensable to human cognition because they take the “blooming, buzzing confusion” (James, 1890, p. 488) of disorganized sensory experiences and establish order through mental categories. These mental categories allow us to make sense of the world and predict how worldly entities will behave. We see, hear, interpret, remember, understand, and talk about our world through our concepts, and so it is worthy of reflection time to establish where concepts come from, how they work, and how they can best be learned and deployed to suit our cognitive needs.
Lier F., Lücking P., de Leeuw J., Wachsmuth S., Šabanović S., Goldstone R. L. (2017) Can we Reproduce it? Toward the Implementation of good Experimental Methodology in Interdisciplinary Robotics Research. In: Bonsignorio FP, ed. Can we Reproduce it? Toward the Implementation of good Experimental Methodology in Interdisciplinary Robotics Research. Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), IEEE Xplore. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Singapore: IEEE.
The insufficient level of reproducibility of published experimental results has been identified as a core issue in the field of robotics in recent years. Why is that? First of all, robotics focuses on the abstract concept of computation and the creation of technological artifacts, i.e., software that implements these concepts. Hence, before actually reproducing an experiment, the subject of investigation must be artificially created, which is non-trivial given the inherent complexity . Second, robotics experiments usually include expensive and often customized hardware setups (robots), that are difficult to operate for non-experts. Finally, there is no agreed upon set of methods in order to setup, execute, or (re-)conduct an experiment.
To this end, we introduce an interdisciplinary and geographically distributed collaboration project that aims at implementing good experimental methodology in interdisciplinary robotics research with respect to: a) reproducibility of required technical artifacts, b) explicit and comprehensible experiment design, c) repeatable/reproducible experiment execution, and d) reproducible evaluation of obtained experiment data. The ultimate goal of this collaboration is to reproduce the same experiment in two different laboratories using the same systematic approach which is presented in this work.
Trench, M., Tavernini, L. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2017). Promoting spontaneous analogical transfer by idealizing target representations. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1206-1211). London, England: Cognitive Science Society.
Recent results demonstrate that inducing an abstract representation of target analogs at retrieval time aids access to analogous situations with mismatching surface features (i.e., the late abstraction principle). A limitation of current implementations of this principle is that they either require the external provision of target-specific information or demand very high intellectual engagement. Experiment 1 demonstrated that constructing an idealized situation model of a target problem increases the rate of correct solutions compared to constructing either concrete simulations or no simulations. Experiment 2 confirmed that these results were based on an advantage for accessing the base analog, and not merely on an advantage of idealized simulations for understanding the target problem in its own terms. This target idealization strategy has broader applicability than prior interventions based on the late abstraction principle, because it can be achieved by a greater proportion of participants and without the need to receive target-specific information.
Marghetis, T., Goldstone, R. L., & Landy, D. (2017). Even when people are manipulating algebraic equations, they still associate numerical magnitude with space. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2675-2680). London, England: Cognitive Science Society.
The development of symbolic algebra transformed civilization. Since algebra is a recent cultural invention, however, algebraic reasoning must build on a foundation of more basic capacities. Past work suggests that spatial representations of number may be part of that foundation, but recent studies have failed to find relations between spatial-numerical associations and higher mathematical skills. One possible explanation of this failure is that spatial representations of number are not activated during complex mathematics. We tested this possibility by collecting dense behavioral recordings while participants manipulated equations. When interacting with an equation’s greatest [/least] number, participants’ movements were deflected upward [/downward] and rightward [/leftward]. This occurred even when the task was purely algebraic and could thus be solved without attending to magnitude (although the deflection was reduced). This is the first evidence that spatial representations of number are activated during algebra. Algebraic reasoning may require coordinating a variety of spatial processes.
Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2017). The most efficient sequence of study depends on the type of test. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 198-203). London, England: Cognitive Science Society.
Previous research has shown that the sequence in which concepts are studied changes how well they are learned. In a series of experiments featuring naturalistic concepts (psychology concepts) and naïve learners, we extend previous research by showing that the sequence of study changes the representation the learner creates of the study materials. Interleaved study leads to the creation of relatively interrelated concepts that are represented by contrast to each other and based on discriminating properties. Blocked study, instead, leads to the creation of relatively isolated concepts that are represented in terms of their central and characteristic properties. The relative benefits of these representations depend on whether the test of conceptual knowledge requires contrastive or characteristic information. These results argue for the integrated investigation of the benefits of different sequences of study as depending on the characteristics of the study and testing situation as a whole.
Lara-Dammer, F., Hofstadter, D. R., & Goldstone, R. L. (2017). A computer model of context dependent perception in a very simple world. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, 29:6, 1247-1282. DOI: 10.1080/0952813X.2017.1328463
We propose the foundations of a computer model of scientic discovery that takes into account certain psychological aspects of human observation of the world. To this end, we simulate two main components of such a system. The first is a dynamic microworld in which physical events take place, and the second is an observer that visually perceives entities and events in the microworld. For reason of space, this paper focuses only on the starting phase of discovery, which is the relatively simple visual inputs of objects and collisions.
Learners often struggle to grasp the important, central principles of complex systems, which describe how interactions between individual agents can produce complex, aggre-gate-level patterns. Learners have even more difficulty transferring their understanding of these principles across superficially dissimilar instantiations of the principles. Here, we provide evidence that teaching high school students an agent-based modeling language can enable students to apply complex system principles across superficially different domains. We measured student performance on a complex systems assessment before and after 1 week training in how to program models using NetLogo (Wilensky, 1999a). Instruction in NetLogo helped two classes of high school students apply complex sys-tems principles to a broad array of phenomena not previously encountered. We argue that teaching an agent-based computational modeling language effectively combines the benefits of explicitly defining the abstract principles underlying agent-level interac-tions with the advantages of concretely grounding knowledge through interactions with agent-based models.
We lay out a multiple, interacting levels of cognitive systems (MILCS) framework to account for the cognitive capacities of individuals and the groups to which they belong. The goal of MILCS is to explain the kinds of cognitive processes typically studied by cognitive scientists, such as perception, attention, memory, categorization, decision-making, problem solving, judgment, and flexible behavior. Two such systems are considered in some detail—lateral inhibition within a network for selecting the most attractive option from a candidate set and a diffusion process for accumulating evidence to reach a rapid and accurate decision. These system descriptions are aptly applied at multiple levels, including within and across people. These systems provide accounts that unify cognitive processes across multiple levels, can be expressed in a common vocabulary provided by network science, are inductively powerful yet appropriately constrained, and are applicable to a large number of superficially diverse cognitive systems. Given group identification processes, cognitively resourceful people will frequently form groups that effectively employ cognitive systems at higher levels than the individual. The impressive cognitive capacities of individual people do not eliminate the need to talk about group cognition. Instead, smart people can provide the interacting parts for smart groups
Goldstone, R. L., Marghetis, T., Weitnauer, E., Ottmar, E. R., & Landy, D. (2017). Adapting perception, action, and technology for mathematical reasoning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 1-8. DOI: d1o0i.1or1g7/170/.01197673/70926134712717410747808488
Formal mathematical reasoning provides an illuminating test case for understanding how humans can think about things that they did not evolve to comprehend. People engage in algebraic reasoning by 1) creating new assemblies of perception and action routines that evolved originally for other purposes (reuse), 2) adapting those routines to better fit the formal requirements of mathematics (adaptation), and 3) designing cultural tools that mesh well with our perception-action routines to create cognitive systems capable of mathematical reasoning (invention). We describe evidence that a major component of proficiency at algebraic reasoning is Rigged Up Perception-Action Systems (RUPAS), via which originally demanding, strategically-controlled cognitive tasks are converted into learned, automatically executed perception and action routines. Informed by RUPAS, we have designed, implemented, and partially assessed a computer-based algebra tutoring system called Graspable Math with an aim toward training learners to develop perception-action routines that are intuitive, efficient, and mathematically valid.
Meagher, B. J., Carvalho, P. F., Goldstone, R. L., & Nosofsky, R. M. (2017). Organized simultaneous displays facilitate learning of complex natural science categories. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, DOI 10.3758/s13423-017-1251-6.
Subjects learned to classify images of rocks into the categories igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. In accord with the real-world structure of these categories, the to-beclassified rocks in the experiments had a dispersed similarity structure. Our central hypothesis was that learning of these complex categories would be improved through observational study of organized, simultaneous displays of the multiple rock tokens. In support of this hypothesis, a technique that included the presentation of the simultaneous displays during phases of the learning process yielded improved acquisition (Experiment 1) and generalization (Experiment 2) compared to methods that relied solely on sequential forms of study and testing. The technique appears to provide a good starting point for application of cognitive-psychology principles of effective category learning to the science classroom.
Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2017). The sequence of study changes what information is attended to, encoded and remembered during category learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43, 1699-1719.
The sequence of study influences how we learn. Previous research has identified different sequences as potentially beneficial for learning in different contexts and with different materials. Here we investigate the mechanisms involved in inductive category learning that give rise to these sequencing effects. Across 3 experiments we show evidence that the sequence of study changes what information learners attend to during learning, what is encoded from the materials studied and, consequently, what is remembered from study. Interleaved study (alternating between presentation of 2 categories) leads to an attentional focus on properties that differ between successive items, leading to relatively better encoding and memory for item properties that discriminate between categories. Conversely, when learners study each category in a separate block (blocked study), learners encode relatively more strongly the characteristic features of the items, which may be the result of a strong attentional focus on sequential similarities. These results provide support for the sequential attention theory proposing that inductive category learning takes place through a process of sequential comparisons between the current and previous items. Different sequences of items change how attention is deployed depending on this basic process. Which sequence results in better or worse learning depends on the match between what is encoded and what is required at test.
Transfer of knowledge is the application of knowledge learned in one context to new, dissimilar problems or situations where the knowledge would be useful. Teachers, coaches, camp counselors, parents, and learners often have the experience of a learner showing apparent understanding when questioned about a topic in a way that closely matches how it was initially presented but showing almost no understanding when queried in a new context or with novel examples. This entry further explains the concept of knowledge transfer. It then discusses several different strategies used to support knowledge transfer.
An individual can interact with the same set of people over many different scales simultaneously. Four people might interact as a group of four and, at the same time, in pairs and triads. What is the relationship between different parallel interaction scales, and how might those scales themselves interact? We devised a four-player experimental game, the Modular Stag Hunt, in which participants chose not just whether to coordinate, but with whom, and at what scale. Our results reveal coordination behavior with such a strong preference for dyads that undermining pairwise coordination actually improves group-scale outcomes. We present these findings as experimental evidence for competition, as opposed to complementarity, between different possible scales of multi-player coordination. This result undermines a basic premise of approaches, like those of network science, that fail to model the interacting effects of dyadic, triadic, and group-scale structure on group outcomes.
Goldstone, R. L., Weitnauer, E., Ottmar, E., Marghetis, T., & Landy, D. H. (2016). Modeling Mathematical Reasoning as Trained Perception-Action Procedures. In R. Sottilare, A. Graesser, X. Hu, A. Olney, B. Nye, and A. Sinatra (Eds.) Design Recommendations for Intelligent Tutoring Systems: Volume 4 – Domain Modeling. Orlando, FL: U.S. Army Research Laboratory. (pp. 213-223).
We have observed that when people engage in algebraic reasoning, they often perceptually and spatially transform algebraic notations directly rather than first converting the notation to an internal, non spatial representation. We describe empirical evidence for spatial transformations, such as spatially compact grouping, transposition, spatially overlaid intermediate results, cancelling out, swapping, and splitting. This research has led us to understand domain models in mathematics as the deployment of trained and strategically crafted perceptual-motor processes working on grounded and strategically crafted notations. This approach to domain modeling has also motivated us to develop and assess an algebra tutoring system focused on helping students train their perception and action systems to coordinate with each other and formal mathematics. Overall, our laboratory and classroom investigations emphasize the interplay between explicit mathematical understandings and implicit perception action training as having a high potential payoff for making learning more efficient, robust, and broadly applicable.
Comparison and reminding have both been shown to support learning and transfer. Comparison is thought to support transfer because it allows learners to disregard non-matching features of superficially different episodes in order to abstract the essential structure of concepts. Remindings promote memory for the individual episodes and generalization because they prompt learners to retrieve earlier episodes during the encoding of later related episodes and to compare across episodes. Across three experiments, we compared the consequences of comparison and reminding on memory and transfer. Participants studied a sequence of related, but superficially different, proverb pairs. In the comparison condition, participants saw proverb pairs presented together and compared their meaning. In the reminding condition, participants viewed proverbs one at a time and retrieved any prior studied proverb that shared the same deep meaning as the current proverb. Experiment 1 revealed that participants in the reminding condition recalled more proverbs than those in the comparison condition. Experiment 2 showed that the mnemonic benefits of reminding persisted over a one-week retention interval. Finally, in Experiment 3, we examined the ability of participants to generalize their remembered information to new items in a task that required participants to identify unstudied proverbs that shared the samemeaning as studied proverbs. Comparison led to worse discrimination between proverbs related to studied proverbs and proverbs unrelated to studied proverbs than reminding. Reminding supported better memory for individual instances and transfer to new situations than comparison.
Marghetis, T., Landy, D., & Goldstone, R. L. (2016). Mastering algebra retrains the visual system to perceive hierarchical structure in equations. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 1(25), 1-10, DOI 10.1186/s41235-016-0020-9.
Formal mathematics is a paragon of abstractness. It thus seems natural to assume that the mathematical expert should rely more on symbolic or conceptual processes, and less on perception and action. We argue instead that mathematical proficiency relies on perceptual systems that have been retrained to implement mathematical skills. Specifically, we investigated whether the visual system—in particular, object-based attention—is retrained so that parsing algebraic expressions and evaluating algebraic validity are accomplished by visual processing. Object-based attention occurs when the visual system organizes the world into discrete objects, which then guide the deployment of attention. One classic signature of object-based attention is better perceptual discrimination within, rather than between, visual objects. The current study reports that object-based attention occurs not only for simple shapes but also for symbolic mathematical elements within algebraic expressions—but only among individuals who have mastered the hierarchical syntax of algebra. Moreover, among these individuals, increased object-based attention within algebraic expressions is associated with a better ability to evaluate algebraic validity. These results suggest that, in mastering the rules of algebra, people retrain their visual system to represent and evaluate abstract mathematical structure. We thus argue that algebraic expertise involves the regimentation and reuse of evolutionarily ancient perceptual processes. Our findings implicate the visual system as central to learning and reasoning in mathematics, leading us to favor educational approaches to mathematics and related STEM fields that encourage students to adapt, not abandon, their use of perception.
The very expertise with which psychologists wield their tools for achieving laboratory control may have had the unwelcome effect of blinding psychologists to the possibilities of discovering principles of behavior without conducting experiments. When creatively interrogated, a diverse range of large, real-world data sets provides powerful diagnostic tools for revealing principles of human judgment, perception, categorization, decision-making, language use, inference, problem solving, and representation. Examples of these data sets include patterns of website links, dictionaries, logs of group interactions, collections of images and image tags, text corpora, history of financial transactions, trends in twitter tag usage and propagation, patents, consumer product sales, performance in high-stakes sporting events, dialect maps, and scientific citations. The goal of this issue is to present some exemplary case studies of mining naturally existing data sets to reveal important principles and phenomena in cognitive science, and to discuss some of the underlying issues involved with conducting traditional experiments, analyses of naturally occurring data, computational modeling, and the synthesis of all three methods.This article serves as the introduction to a TopiCS topic with the same name. The rest of the downloadable papers in this Topic are:
Moat, H. S., Olivola, C. Y., Chater, N., & Preis, T. (2016). Searching choices: Quantifying decision making processes using search engine data. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 685–696. doi: 10.1111/tops.12207.
Carvalho, P. F. & Goldstone, R.L. (2016). Zebras and antelopes: category sparsity as the result of the relations between objects and within categories, Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1080/23273798.2016.1236978
In their paper “Recognizing a zebra from its stripes and the stripes from ‘zebra’: the role of verbal labels in select- ing category relevant information”, Perry and Lupyan (P&L) argue that sparse categories impose high selective attention demands, requiring one to choose what to attend to, compared to dense categories for which several dimensions can or must be used. Furthermore, P&L argue that labels are more useful for sparse categories because they “tune” perception towards the dis- criminative properties of objects. P&L show that categories for which there is substantial agreement by participants on what the common feature of that category is, have lower selective attention demands and benefit more from the inclusion of a label. In this commentary we focus on what constitutes a sparse category. We will attempt to make the case for the importance of considering both how many discriminative features as well as how many common but not discriminative features a category has in order to evaluate category sparsity. We propose that for a complete understanding of the selective attention processes and labelling effects on category learning one must take the categorisation space, rather than each isolated category, into account.
To investigate the effect of competitive incentives under peer review, we designed a novel experimental setup called the Art Exhibition Game. We present experimental evidence of how competition introduces both positive and negative effects when creative artifacts are evaluated and selected by peer review. Competition proved to be a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it fosters innovation and product diversity, but on the other hand, it also leads to more unfair reviews and to a lower level of agreement between reviewers. Moreover, an external validation of the quality of peer reviews during the laboratory experiment, based on 23,627 online evaluations on Amazon Mechanical Turk, shows that competition does not significantly increase the level of creativity. Furthermore, the higher rejection rate under competitive conditions does not improve the average quality of published contributions, because more high-quality work is also rejected. Overall, our results could explain why many ground-breaking studies in science end up in lower-tier journals. Differences and similarities between the Art Exhibition Game and scholarly peer review are discussed and the implications for the design of new incentive systems for scientists are explained.
Carvalho, P.F., Braithwaite, D.W., de Leeuw, J.R., Motz, B.A., & Goldstone, R.L. (2016). An in vivo study of self-regulated study sequencing in introductory psychology courses. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0152115.
Study sequence can have a profound influence on learning. In this study we investigated how students decide to sequence their study in a naturalistic context and whether their choices result in improved learning. In the study reported here, 2061 undergraduate students enrolled in an Introductory Psychology course completed an online homework tutorial on measures of central tendency, a topic relevant to an exam that counted towards their grades. One group of students was enabled to choose their own study sequence during the tutorial (Self-Regulated group), while the other group of students studied the same materials in sequences chosen by other students (Yoked group). Students who chose their sequence of study showed a clear tendency to block their study by concept, and this tendency was positively associated with subsequent exam performance. In the Yoked group, study sequence had no effect on exam performance. These results suggest that despite findings that blocked study is maladaptive when assigned by an experimenter, it may actually be adaptive when chosen by the learner in a naturalistic context.
Why are some behaviors governed by strong social conventions while others are not? We experimentally investigate two factors contributing to the formation of conventions in a game of impure coordination: the continuity of interaction within each round of play (simultaneous vs. real-time) and the stakes of the interaction (high vs. low differences between payoffs). To maximize efficiency and fairness in this game, players must coordinate on one of two equally advantageous equilibria. In agreement with other studies manipulating continuity of interaction, we find that players who were allowed to interact continuously within rounds achieved outcomes with greater efficiency and fairness than players who were forced to make simultaneous decisions. However, the stability of equilibria in the real-time condition varied systematically and dramatically with stakes: players converged on more stable patterns of behavior when stakes are high. To account for this result, we present a novel analysis of the dynamics of continuous interaction and signaling within rounds. We discuss this previously unconsidered interaction between within-trial and across-trial dynamics as a form of social canalization. When stakes are low in a real-time environment, players can satisfactorily coordinate `on the fly,’ but when stakes are high there is increased pressure to establish and adhere to shared expectations that persist across rounds.
The idea that cognitive development involves a shift towards abstraction has a long history in psychology. One incarnation of this idea holds that development in the domain of mathematics involves a shift from non-formal mechanisms to formal rules and axioms. Contrary to this view, the present study provides evidence that reliance on non-formal mechanisms may actually increase with age. Participants – Dutch primary school children – evaluated three-term arithmetic expressions in which violation of formally correct order of evaluation led to errors, termed foil errors. Participants solved the problems as part of their regular mathematics practice through an online study platform, and data were collected from over 50,000 children representing approximately 10% of all primary schools in the Netherlands, suggesting that the results have high external validity. Foil errors were more common for problems in which formally lower-priority sub-expressions were spaced close together, and also for problems in which such sub-expressions were relatively easy to calculate. We interpret these effects as resulting from reliance on two non-formal mechanisms, perceptual grouping and opportunistic selection, to determine order of evaluation. Critically, these effects reliably increased with participants’ grade level, suggesting that these mechanisms are not phased out but actually become more important over development, even when they cause systematic violations of formal rules. This conclusion presents a challenge for the shift towards abstraction view as a description of cognitive development in arithmetic. Implications of this result for educational practice are discussed.
Recent research in relational learning has suggested that simple training instances may lead to better generalization than complex training instances. We examined the perceptual encoding mechanisms that might undergird this Simple advantage by testing category and perceptual learning in adults with simplified and traditional (more complex) Chinese scripts. In Experiment 1, participants learned Chinese characters and their English translations, performed a memorization test, and generalized their learning to the corresponding characters written in the other script. In Experiment 2, we removed the training phase and modified the tests to examine transfer based purely on the perceptual similarities between simplified and traditional characters. We found the simple advantage in both experiments. Training with simplified characters produced better generalization than training with traditional characters when generalization relied on either recognition memory or pure perceptual similarities. On the basis of the results of these two experiments,we propose a simple processmodel to explain the perceptual mechanism that might drive this simple advantage, and in Experiment 3 we tested novel predictions of this model by examining the effect of exposure duration on the simple advantage. We found support for our model that the simple advantage is driven primarily by differences in the perceptual encoding of the information available from simple and complex instances. These findings advance our understanding of how the perceptual features of a learning opportunity interact with domain-general mechanisms to prepare learners for transfer.
Prior research has established that while the use of concrete, familiar examples can provide many important benefits for learning, it is also associated with some serious disadvantages, particularly in learners’ ability to recognize and transfer their knowledge to new analogous situations. However, it is not immediately clear whether this pattern would hold in real world educational contexts, in which the role of such examples in student engagement and ease of processing might be of enough importance to overshadow any potential negative impact. We conducted two experiments in which curriculum-relevant material was presented in natural classroom environments, first with college undergraduates and then with middle-school students. All students in each study received the same relevant content, but the degree of contextualization in these materials was varied between students. In both studies, we found that greater contextualization was associated with poorer transfer performance. We interpret these results as reflecting a greater degree of embeddedness for the knowledge acquired from richer, more concrete materials, such that the underlying principles are represented in a less abstract and generalizable form.
Schwartz, D. L, & Goldstone, R. L. (2016). Learning as coordination: Cognitive psychology and education. In L. Corno & E. M. Anderman (Eds.) Handbook of Educational Psychology, 3rd edition. New York: Routledge (pp. 61-75).
The chapter follows a central thesis: A major task of teaching and instruction is to help learners coordinate categories of cognitive processes, capabilities, and representations. While nature confers basic abilities, education synthesizes them to suit the demands of contemporary culture. So, rather than treating categories of learning and instruction as an either–or problem, the problem is how to coordinate learning processes so they can do more together than they can alone. This thesis, which proposes a systems level analysis, is not the norm when thinking about teaching and learning. More common is the belief that learning involves strengthening select cognitive processes rather than coordination across processes. Our chapter, therefore, needs to develop the argument for learning as coordination. To do so, we introduce findings from the field of cognitive psychology.
Hmeljak, D., & Goldstone, R. L. (2016). Avatars and behavioral experiments: methods for controlled quantitative social behavioral research in virtual worlds. In Y. Silvan (Ed.) Handbook on 3D3C Virtual Worlds. Zurich, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
Three-dimensional, Community, Creation, and Commerce (3D3C) worlds can support real-time, quantitatively controlled experiments for studying human group behavior. This chapter provides a review of social behavioral research in virtual worlds, their methodologies and goals, such as studies of socio-economical trends, interpersonal communications between virtual world residents, automated survey studies, etc. The chapter contrasts existing research tools in virtual worlds with the goals of studying human group behavior as a complex system—how interacting groups of people create emergent organizations at a higher level than the individuals comprising such groups. Finally, the chapter presents features of virtual world-based group behavior experiments that allow the recreation of controlled quantitative experiments previously conducted in supervised lab sessions or web-based games.
Learning abstract concepts through concrete examples may promote learning at the cost of inhibiting transfer. The present study investigated one approach to solving this problem: systematically varying superficial features of the examples. Participants learned to solve problems involving a mathematical concept by studying either superficially similar or varied examples. In Experiment 1, less knowledgeable participants learned better from similar examples,while more knowledgeable participants learned better from varied examples. In Experiment 2, prior to learning how to solve the problems, some participants received a pretraining aimed at increasing attention to the structural relations underlying the target concept. These participants, like the more knowledgeable participants in Experiment 1, learned better from varied examples. Thus, the utility of varied examples depends on prior knowledge and, in particular, ability to attend to relevant structure. Increasing this ability can prepare learners to learn more effectively from varied examples.
We consider a situation in which individuals search for accurate decisions without direct feedback on their accuracy, but with information about the decisions made by peers in their group. The “wisdom of crowds” hypothesis states that the average judgment of many individuals can give a good estimate of, for example, the outcomes of sporting events and the answers to trivia questions. Two conditions for the application of wisdom of crowds are that estimates should be independent and unbiased. Here, we study how individuals integrate social information when answering trivia questions with answers that range between 0% and 100% (e.g., “What percentage of Americans are left-handed?”). We find that, consistent with the wisdom of crowds hypothesis, average performance improves with group size. However, individuals show a consistent bias to produce estimates that are insufficiently extreme. We find that social information provides significant, albeit small, improvement to group performance. Outliers with answers far from the correct answer move toward the position of the group mean. Given that these outliers also tend to be nearer to 50% than do the answers of other group members, this move creates group polarization away from 50%. By looking at individual performance over different questions we find that some people are more likely to be affected by social influence than others. There is also evidence that people differ in their competence in answering questions, but lack of competence is not significantly correlated with willingness to change guesses. We develop a mathematical model based on these results that postulates a cognitive process in which people first decide whether to take into account peer guesses, and if so, to move in the direction of these guesses. The size of the move is proportional to the distance between their own guess and the average guess of the group. This model closely approximates the distribution of guess movements and shows how outlying incorrect opinions can be systematically removed from a group resulting, in some situations, in improved group performance. However, improvement is only predicted for cases in which the initial guesses of individuals in the group are biased.
Cavalho, P. F., Braithwaite, D. W., de Leeuw, J. R., Motz, B. A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2015). Effectiveness of learner-regulated study sequence: An in-vivo study in introductory psychology courses. Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 309-314). Pasadena, CA: Cognitive Science Society.
Study sequence can have a profound impact on learning. Previous research has often shown advantages for interleaved over blocked study, though the reverse has also been found. Learners typically prefer blocking even in situations for which interleaving is superior. The present study investigated learner regulation of study sequence, and its effects on learning in an ecologically valid context – university students using an online tutorial relevant to an exam that counted toward their course grades. The majority of participants blocked study by problem category, and this tendency was positively associated with subsequent exam performance. The results suggest that preference for blocked study may be adaptive under some circumstances, and highlight the importance of identifying task environments under which different study sequences are most effective.
Kost, A., Cavalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2015). Can you repeat that? The effect of item repetition on interleaved and blocked study. Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1189-1194). Pasadena, CA: Cognitive Science Society.
Three experiments explore differences between blocked and interleaved study with and without item repetition. In the first experiment we find that when items are repeated during study, blocked study results in higher test performance than interleaved study. In the second experiment we find that when there is no item repetition, interleaved and blocked study result in equivalent performance during the test phase. In the third experiment we find that when the study is passive and includes no item repetition, interleaved study results in higher test performance. We propose that learners create associations between items of the same category during blocked study and item repetition strengthens these associations. Interleaved study leads to weaker associations between items of the same category and therefore results in worse performance during test when there are item repetitions.
de Leeuw, J. R., & Goldstone, R. L. (2015). Memory constraints affect statistical learning; statistical learning affects memory constraints. Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 530-535). Pasadena, CA: Cognitive Science Society.
We present evidence that successful chunk formation during a statistical learning task depends on how well the perceiver is able to parse the information that is presented between successive presentations of the to-be-learned chunk. First, we show that learners acquire a chunk better when the surrounding information is also chunk-able in a visual statistical learning task. We tested three process models of chunk formation, TRACX, PARSER, and MDLChunker, on our two different experimental conditions, and found that only PARSER and MDLChunker matched the observed result. These two models share the common principle of a memory capacity that is expanded as a result of learning. Though implemented in very different ways, both models effectively remember more individual items (the atomic components of a sequence) as additional chunks are formed. The ability to remember more information directly impacts learning in the models, suggesting that there is a positive-feedback loop in chunk learning.
Ottmar, E. R., Landy, D., Goldstone, R. L., & Weitnauer, E. (2015). Getting from here to there: Testing the effectiveness of an interactive mathematics intervention embedding perceptual learning. Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1793-1798). Pasadena, CA: Cognitive Science Society.
We describe an interactive mathematics technology intervention From Here to There! (FH2T) that was developed by our research team. This dynamic program allows users to manipulate and transform mathematical expressions. In this paper, we present initial findings from a classroom study that investigates whether using FH2T improves learning. We compare learning gains from two different instantiations of FH2T (retrieval practice and fluid visualizations), as well as a control group, and investigate the role of prior knowledge and content exposure in FH2T as possible moderators of learning. Findings, as well as implications for research and practice are discussed.
Weitnauer, E., Landy, D., Goldstone, R. L., & Ritter, H. (2015). A computational model for learning structured concepts from physical scenes. Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2631-2636). Pasadena, CA: Cognitive Science Society.
Category learning is an essential cognitive mechanism for making sense of the world. Many existing computational category learning models focus on categories that can be represented as feature vectors, and yet a substantial part of the categories we encounter have members with inner structure and inner relationships. We present a novel computational model that perceives and learns structured concepts from physical scenes. The perception and learning processes happen simultaneously and interact with each other. We apply the model to a set of physical categorization tasks and promote specific types of comparisons by manipulating presentation order of examples. We find that these manipulations affect the algorithm similarly to human participants that worked on the same task. Both benefit from juxtaposing examples of different categories – especially ones that are similar to each other. When juxtaposing examples from the same category they do better if the examples are dissimilar to each other.
Brunel, L., Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2015). It does belong together: Cross-modal correspondences influence cross-modal integration during perceptual learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 6: 358. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00358
Experiencing a stimulus in one sensory modality is often associated with an experience in another sensory modality. For instance, seeing a lemon might produce a sensation of sourness. This might indicate some kind of cross-modal correspondence between vision and gustation. The aim of the current study was to provide explore whether such cross-modal correspondences influence cross-modal integration during perceptual learning. To that end, we conducted 2 experiments. Using a speeded classification task, Experiment 1 established a cross-modal correspondence between visual lightness and the frequency of an auditory tone. Using a short-term priming procedure, Experiment 2 showed that manipulation of such cross-modal correspondences led to the creation of a crossmodal unit regardless of the nature of the correspondence (i.e., congruent, Experiment 2a or incongruent, Experiment 2b). However, a comparison of priming-effects sizes suggested that cross-modal correspondences modulate cross-modal integration during learning and thus leading to new learned units that have different stability over time. We discuss the implications of our results for the relation between cross-modal correspondence and perceptual learning in the context of a Bayesian explanation of cross-modal correspondences.
With several large-scale human brain projects currently underway and a range of neuroimaging techniques growing in availability to researchers, the amount and diversity of data relevant for understanding the human brain is increasing rapidly. A complete understanding of the brain must incorporate information about 3D neural location, activity, timing, and task. Data mining, highperformance computing, and visualization can serve as tools that augment human intellect; however, the resulting visualizations must take into account human abilities and limitations to be effective tools for exploration and communication. In this feature review, we discuss key challenges and opportunities that arise when leveraging the sophisticated perceptual and conceptual processing of the human brain to help researchers understand brain structure, function, and behavior.
Inductive category learning takes place across time. As such, it is not surprising that the sequence in which information is studied has an impact in what is learned and how efficient learning is. In this paper we review research on different learning sequences and how this impacts learning. We analyze different aspects of interleaved (frequent alternation between categories during study) and blocked study (infrequent alternation between categories during study) that might explain how and when one sequence of study results in improved learning. While these different sequences of study differ in the amount of temporal spacing and temporal juxtaposition between items of different categories, these aspects do not seem to account for the majority of the results available in the literature. However, differences in the type of category being studied and the duration of the retention interval between study and test may play an important role. We conclude that there is no single aspect that is able to account for all the evidence available. Understanding learning as a process of sequential comparisons in time and how different sequences fundamentally alter the statistics of this experience offers a promising framework for understanding sequencing effects in category learning. We use this framework to present novel predictions and hypotheses for future research on sequencing effects in inductive category learning.
Various kinds of assistance, including prompts, worked examples, direct instruction, and modeling, are widely provided to learners across educational and training programs. Yet, the effectiveness of assistance during training on long-term learning is widely debated. In the current experiment, we examined how the extent and schedule of assistance during training on a novel mouse movement task impacted unassisted test performance. Learners received different schedules of assistance during training, including constant assistance, no assistance, probabilistic assistance, alternating assistance, and faded assistance. Constant assistance led to better performance during training than no assistance. However, constant assistance during training resulted in the worst unassisted test performance. Faded assistance during training resulted in the best test performance. This suggests that fading may allow learners to create an internal model of the assistance without depending upon the assistance in a manner that impedes successful transfer to unassisted circumstances.
Research on how information should be studied during inductive category learning has identified both interleaving of categories and blocking by category as beneficial for learning. Previous work suggests that this mixed evidence can be reconciled by taking into account within- and between-category similarity relations. In this paper we present a new moderating factor. Across two experiments, one group of participants studied categories actively (by studying the objects without correct category assignment and actively figuring out what the category is), either interleaved or blocked. Another group studied the same categories passively (objects and correct category assignment were simultaneously provided). Results from a subsequent generalization task show that whether interleaved or blocked study result in better learning depend on whether study is active or passive. One account of these results is that different presentation sequences and tasks promote different patterns of attention to stimulus components. Passive learning and blocking promote attending to commonalities within categories, while active learning and interleaving promote attending to differences between categories.
[This paper is a commentary on the following article: Gintis, H., & Helbing, D. (2015). Homo Socialis: An Analytical Core for Sociological Theory. Review of Behavioral Economics.]
Explaining how patterns of collective behavior emerge from interactions among individuals with diverse, sometimes opposing, goals is a societally crucial and particularly timely pursuit. It is timely because humans are more tightly connected to one another now than ever before. From 1984 to 2014 there has been more than a million-fold increase in the number of devices that can reach the global digital network. Although web technology is new and transformative, from a broader perspective, it is also just a recent manifestation of humanity’s perpetual drive to become more intermeshed. Earlier manifestations of this drive include the printing press, global transportation networks, telecommunication systems, and the academy. These social networks have catalyzed the formation of otherwise unattainable social patterns. Understanding the origins and possible destinations of these social patterns is both scientifically and pragmatically consequential.
Perceptual modules adapt at evolutionary, lifelong, and moment-to-moment temporal scales to better serve the informational needs of cognizers. Perceptual learning is a powerful way for an individual to become tuned to frequently recurring patterns in its specific local environment that are pertinent to its goals without requiring costly executive control resources to be deployed. Mechanisms like predictive coding, categorical perception, and action-informed vision allow our perceptual systems to interface well with cognition by generating perceptual outputs that are systematically guided by how they will be used. In classic conceptions of perceptual modules, people have access to the modules’ outputs but no ability to adjust their internal workings. However, humans routinely and strategically alter their perceptual systems via training regimes that have predictable and specific outcomes. In fact, employing a combination of strategic and automatic devices for adapting perception is one of the most promising approaches to improving cognition.
When a musical tone is sounded, most listeners are unable to identify its pitch by name. Those listeners who can identify pitches are said to have absolute pitch perception (AP). A limited subset of musicians possesses AP, and it has been debated whether musicians’ AP interferes with their ability to perceive tonal relationships between pitches, or relative pitch (RP). The present study tested musicians’ discrimination of relative pitch categories, or intervals, by placing absolute pitch values in conflict with relative pitch categories. AP listeners perceived intervals categorically, and their judgments were not affected by absolute pitch values. These results indicate that AP listeners do not infer interval identities from the absolute values between tones, and that RP categories are salient musical concepts in both RP and AP musicianship.
Weitnauer, E., Carvalho, P. F., Goldstone, R. L., & Ritter, H. (2014). Similarity-based ordering of instances for efficient concept learning. Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1760-1765). Quebec City, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
Theories in concept learning predict that interleaving instances of different concepts is especially beneficial if the concepts are highly similar to each other, whereas blocking instances belonging to the same concept provides an advantage for learning low-similarity concept structures. This suggests that the performance in concept learning tasks can be improved by grouping the instances of given concepts based on their similarity. To explore this hypothesis, we use Physical Bongard Problems, a rich categorization task with an open feature space, to analyze the combined effects of comparing dissimilar and similar instances within and across categories. We manipulate the within- and between-category similarity of instances presented close to each other in blocked, interleaved and simultaneous presentation schedules. The results show that grouping instances to promote dissimilar within- and similar between category comparisons improves the learning results, to a degree depending on the strategy used by the learner.
Braithwaite, D. W., & Goldstone, R. L. (2014). Benefits of variation increase with preparation. Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1940-1945). Quebec City, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
Abstract concepts are characterized by their underlying structure rather than superficial features. Variation in the examples used to teach abstract concepts can draw attention towards shared structure and away from superficial detail, but too much variation can inhibit learning. The present study tested the possibility that increasing attention to underlying structural relations could alleviate the latter difficulty and thereby increase the benefits of varied examples. Participants were trained with either varied or similar examples of a mathematical concept, and were then tested on their ability to apply the concept to new cases. Before training, some participants received pre training aimed at increasing attention to the structural relations underlying the concept. The relative advantage of varied over similar examples was increased among participants who received the pretraining. Thus, preparation that promotes attention to the relations underlying abstract concepts can increase the benefits of learning from varied examples.
Braithwaite, D. W., & Goldstone, R. L. (2014). Spatial organization and presentation mode in the representation of complex data. Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 230-235). Quebec City, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
External representations are more effective when spatial dimensions are used to represent numeric variables. However, this principle may result in suboptimal representations when the number of numeric variables to be represented is large. To test this possibility, participants studied a set of graphs representing a parametrized function under different parameter values. The graphs were displayed either using a grid organization, with parameter values represented by spatial dimensions (horizontal and vertical position of the graphs), or juxtaposed in a single area, with parameter values represented by non-spatial dimensions (color and texture). Juxtaposed organization led to better learning. However, this advantage was eliminated when the graphs were presented successively rather than simultaneously. The results suggest that juxtaposed organization can improve comprehension of complex data by facilitating comparison between parts of the data. Such organization may be preferable even if it precludes use of spatial dimensions for some numeric variables.
Through perceptual learning, perceptual systems are gradually modified so as to better fit an organism’s environment and frequently occurring needs. We consider psychological and neurophysiological evidence that changes to perception can be early in the stream of information processing. Three specific mechanisms of perceptual learning are described: attentional tuning, unitization, and attribute differentiation. These mechanisms allow organisms to emphasize important perceptual information, to construct single functional units that are activated when a familiar complex configuration arises, and to isolate perceptual attributes that were originally psychologically fused. We describe ways by which people modify their perceptual systems so as to better meet their goals, and the implications of these modifications for the cognitive penetrability of perception, relations between perception and higher-order reasoning, and education.
How does perceptual learning take place early in life? Traditionally, researchers have focused on how infants make use of information within displays to organize it, but recently, increasing attention has been paid to the question of how infants perceive objects differently depending upon their recent interactions with the objects. This experiment investigates 10-month-old infants’ use of brief prior experiences with objects to visually organize a display consisting of multiple geometrically-shaped three-dimensional blocks created for this study. After a brief exposure to a multi-part portion of the display, each infant was shown two test events, one of which preserved the unit the infant had seen and the other of which broke that unit. Overall, infants looked longer at the event that broke the unit they had seen prior to testing than the event that preserved that unit, suggesting that infants made use of the brief prior experience to (a) form a cohesive unit of the multi-part portion of the display they saw prior to test and (b) segregate this unit from the rest of the test display. This suggests that infants made inferences about novel parts of the test display based on limited exposure to a subset of the test display. Like adults, infants learn features of the three-dimensional world through their experiences in it.
Studying different concepts by frequently alternating between them (i.e., interleaving), improves discriminative contrast between different categories, while studying each con- cept in separate blocks emphasizes the similarities within each category. Interleaved study has been shown to improve learning of high similarity categories by increasing between- category comparison, while blocked study improves learning of low similarity categories by increasing within-category comparison. In addition, interleaved study presents greater temporal spacing between repetitions of each category compared to blocked study, which might present long-term memory benefits. In this study we asked if the benefits of temporal spacing would interact with the benefits of sequencing for making comparisons when testing was delayed, particularly for low similarity categories. Blocked study might be predicted to promote noticing similarities across members of the same category and result in short-term benefits. However, the increase in temporal delay between repetitions inherent to interleaved study might benefit both types of categories when tested after a longer retention interval. Participants studied categories either interleaved or blocked and were tested immediately and 24 h after study. We found an interaction between schedule of study and the type of category studied, which is consistent with the differential emphasis promoted by each sequential schedule. However, increasing the retention interval did not modulate this interaction or resulted in improved performance for interleaved study. Overall, this indicates that the benefit of interleaving is not primarily due to temporal spacing during study, but rather due to the cross-category comparisons that interleaving facilitates. We discuss the benefits of temporal spacing of repetitions in the context of sequential study and how it can be integrated with the attentional bias hypothesis proposed by Carvalho and Goldstone (2014a).
Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L., (2014). Putting category learning in order: category structure and temporal arrangement affect the benefit of interleaved over blocked study. Memory & Cognition, 42(3), 481-495.
Recent research in inductive category learning has demonstrated that interleaved study of category exemplars results in better performance than does studying each category in separate blocks. However, the questions of how the category structure influences this advantage and how simultaneous presentation interacts with the advantage are open issues. In this article, we present three experiments. The first experiment indicates that the advantage of interleaved over blocked study is modulated by the structure of the categories being studied. More specifically, interleaved study results in better generalization for categories with high within- and between-category similarity, whereas blocked presentation results in better generalization for categories with low within- and between-category similarity. In Experiment 2, we present evidence that when presented simultaneously, between-category comparisons (interleaved presentation) result in a performance advantage for high-similarity categories, but no differences were found for low-similarity categories. In Experiment 3, we directly compared simultaneous and successive presentation of low-similarity categories. We again found an overall benefit for blocked study with these categories. Overall, these results are consistent with the proposal that interleaving emphasizes differences between categories, whereas blocking emphasizes the discovery of commonalities among objects within the same category.
A longstanding debate concerns the use of concrete versus abstract instructional materials, particularly in domains such as mathematics and science. Although decades of research have focused on the advantages and disadvantages of concrete and abstract materials considered independently, we argue for an approach that moves beyond this dichotomy and combines their advantages. Specifically, we recommend beginning with concrete materials and then explicitly and gradually fading to the more abstract. Theoretical benefits of this “concreteness fading” technique for mathematics and science instruction include: (1) helping learners interpret ambiguous or opaque abstract symbols in terms of well-understood concrete objects, (2) providing embodied perceptual and physical experiences that can ground abstract thinking, (3) enabling learners to build up a store of memorable images that can be used when abstract symbols lose meaning, and (4) guiding learners to strip away extraneous concrete properties and distill the generic, generalizable properties. In these ways, concreteness fading provides advantages that go beyond the sum of the benefits of concrete and abstract materials.
Leydesdorff, L., & Goldstone, R. L. (2014). Interdisciplinarity at the Journal and Specialty Level: The changing knowledge bases of the journal Cognitive Science. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 65, 164-177.
Using the referencing patterns in articles in Cognitive Science over three decades, we analyze the knowledge base of this literature in terms of its changing disciplinary composition. Three periods are distinguished: (1) construction of the interdisciplinary space in the 1980s; (2) development of an interdisciplinary orientation in the 1990s; (3) reintegration into “cognitive psychology” in the 2000s. The fluidity and fuzziness of the interdisciplinary delineations in the different visualizations can be reduced and clarified using factor analysis. We also explore newly available routines (“CorText”) to analyze this development in terms of “tubes” using an alluvial map, and compare the results with an animation (using “visone”). The historical specificity of this development can be compared with the development of “artificial intelligence” into an integrated specialty during this same period. “Interdisciplinarity” should be defined differently at the level of journals and of specialties.
Graphs and tables differentially support performance on specific tasks. For tasks requiring reading off single data points, tables are as good as or better than graphs, while for tasks involving relationships among data points, graphs often yield better performance. However, the degree to which graphs and tables support flexibility across a range of tasks is not well-understood. In two experiments, participants detected main and interaction effects in line graphs and tables of bivariate data. Graphs led to more efficient performance, but also lower flexibility, as indicated by a larger discrepancy in performance across tasks. In particular, detection of main effects of variables represented in the graph legend was facilitated relative to detection of main effects of variables represented in the x-axis. Graphs may be a preferable representational format when the desired task or analytical perspective is known in advance, but may also induce greater interpretive bias than tables, necessitating greater care in their use and design.
When making decisions, humans can observe many kinds of information about others’ activities, but their effects on performance are not well understood. We investigated social learning strategies using a simple problem-solving task in which participants search a complex space, and each can view and imitate others’ solutions. Results showed that participants combined multiple sources of information to guide learning, including payoffs of peers’ solutions, popularity of solution elements among peers, similarity of peers’ solutions to their own, and relative payoffs from individual exploration. Furthermore, performance was positively associated with imitation rates at both the individual and group levels. When peers’ payoffs were hidden, popularity and similarity biases reversed, participants searched more broadly and randomly, and both quality and equity of exploration suffered. We conclude that when peers’ solutions can be effectively compared, imitation does not simply permit scrounging, but it can also facilitate propagation of good solutions for further cumulative exploration.
The terms concreteness fading and progressive formalization have been used to describe instructional approaches to science and mathematics that use grounded representations to introduce concepts and later transition to more formal representations of the same concepts. There are both theoretical and empirical reasons to believe that such an approach may improve learning outcomes relative to instruction employing only grounded or only formal representations (Freudenthal, 1991; Goldstone & Son, 2005; McNeil & Fyfe, 2012; but see Kaminski, Sloutsky, & Heckler, 2008). Two experiments tested the effectiveness of this approach to instruction in the mathematical domain of combinatorics, using outcome listing and numerical calculation as examples of grounded and formal representations, respectively. The study employed a pretest-training, posttest design. Transfer performance, that is, participants’ improvement from pretest to posttest, was used to assess the effectiveness of instruction received during training. In Experiment 1, transfer performance was compared for 4 types of instruction, which differed only in the types of representation they employed: pure listing (i.e., listing only), pure formalism (i.e., numerical calculation only), list fading (i.e., listing followed by numerical calculation), and formalism first (i.e., listing introduced after numerical calculation). List fading instruction led to transfer performance on par with pure formalism instruction and higher than formalism first and pure listing instruction. In Experiment 2, an enhanced version of list fading training was again compared to pure formalism. However, no difference in transfer performance due to training was found. The results suggest that combining grounded and formal representations can be an effective approach to combinatorics instruction but is not necessarily preferable to using formal representations alone. If both grounded and formal representations are employed, the former should precede rather than follow the latter in the instructional sequence.
Recent theories from complexity science argue that complex dynamics are ubiquitous in social and economic systems. These claims emerge from the analysis of individually simple agents whose collective behavior is surprisingly complicated. However, economists have argued that iterated reasoning–what you think I think you think–will suppress complex dynamics by stabilizing or accelerating convergence to Nash equilibrium. We report stable and efficient periodic behavior in human groups playing the Mod Game, a multi-player game similar to Rock-Paper-Scissors. The game rewards subjects for thinking exactly one step ahead of others in their group. Groups that play this game exhibit cycles that are inconsistent with any fixed-point solution concept. These cycles are driven by a ‘‘hopping’’ behavior that is consistent with other accounts of iterated reasoning: agents are constrained to about two steps of iterated reasoning and learn an additional one-half step with each session. If higher-order reasoning can be complicit in complex emergent dynamics, then cyclic and chaotic patterns may be endogenous features of real-world social and economic systems.
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See a movie of actual humans (shown as Xs) playing the Mod Game. Notice the clumping of their moves and their regular progression around the circle of choices.
Unlike how most psychology experiments on learning operate, people learning to do a task typically do so in the context of other people learning to do the same task. In these situations, people take advantage of others’ solutions, and may modify and extend these solutions, thereby affecting the solutions available to others. We are interested in the group patterns that emerge when people can see and imitate the solutions, innovations, and choices of their peers over several rounds. In one series of experiments and computer simulations, we find that there is a systematic relation between the difficulty of a problem search space and the optimal social network for transmitting solutions. As the difficulty of finding optimal solutions in a search space increases, communication networks that preserve spatial neighborhoods perform best. Restricting people’s access to others’ solutions can help the group as a whole find good, hard-to-discover solutions. In other experiments with more complex search spaces, we find evidence for several heuristics governing individuals’ decisions to imitate: imitating prevalent options, imitating options that become increasingly prevalent, imitating high-scoring options, imitating during the early stages of a multiround search process, and imitating solutions similar to one’s own solution. Individuals who imitate tend to perform well, and more surprisingly, individuals also perform well when they are in groups with other individuals who imitate frequently. Taken together, our experiments on collective social learning reveal laboratory equivalents of prevalent social phenomena such as bandwagons, strategy convergence, inefficiencies in the collective coverage of a problem space, social dilemmas in exploration/exploitation, and reciprocal imitation.
Jones, M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2013). The structure of integral dimensions: Contrasting topological and Cartesian representations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 39, 111-132.
Diverse evidence shows that perceptually integral dimensions, such as those composing color, are represented holistically. However, the nature of these holistic representations is poorly understood. Extant theories, such as those founded on multidimensional scaling or general recognition theory, model integral stimulus spaces using a Cartesian coordinate system, just as with spaces defined by separable dimensions. This approach entails a rich geometrical structure that has never been questioned but may not be psychologically meaningful for integral dimensions. In particular, Cartesian models carry a notion of orthogonality of component dimensions, such that if 1 dimension is diagnostic for a classification or discrimination task, another can be selected as uniquely irrelevant. This article advances an alternative model in which integral dimensions are characterized as topological spaces. The Cartesian and topological models are tested in a series of experiments using the perceptual-learning phenomenon of dimension differentiation, whereby discrimination training with integral-dimension stimuli can induce an analytic representation of those stimuli. Under the present task design, the 2 models make contrasting predictions regarding the analytic representation that will be learned. Results consistently support the Cartesian model. These findings indicate that perceptual representations of integral dimensions are surprisingly structured, despite their holistic, unanalyzed nature.
Typical disjunctive artificial classification tasks require participants to sort stimuli according to rules such as “x likes cars only when black and coupe OR white and SUV.” For cate-gories like this, increasing the salience of the diagnostic dimensions has two simultaneous effects: increasing the distance between members of the same category and increas-ing the distance between members of opposite categories. Potentially, these two effects respectively hinder and facilitate classification learning, leading to competing predictions for learning. Increasing saliency may lead to members of the same category to be consid-ered less similar, while the members of separate categories might be considered more dissimilar. This implies a similarity-dissimilarity competition between two basic classifica-tion processes. When focusing on sub-category similarity, one would expect more difficult classification when members of the same category become less similar (disregarding the increase of between-category dissimilarity); however, the between-category dissimi-larity increase predicts a less difficult classification. Our categorization study suggests that participants rely more on using dissimilarities between opposite categories than finding similarities between sub-categories.We connect our results to rule- and exemplar-based classification models.The pattern of influences of within- and between-category similarities are challenging for simple single-process categorization systems based on rules or exem-plars. Instead, our results suggest that either these processes should be integrated in a hybrid model, or that category learning operates by forming clusters within each category.
An enormous amount of ink has been spilled in the psychology literature on the topic of similarity. There are two reasons that this seemingly intuitive and prosaic concept has been the subject of such intense scrutiny. First, there is virtually no area of cognitive processing in which similarity does not seem to play a role. William James observed that “This sense of Sameness is the very keel and backbone of our thinking” (James 1890/1950: 459). Ivan Pavlov first noted that dogs would generalize their learned salivation response to new sounds as a function of their similarity to the original tone, and this pattern of generalization appears to be ubiquitous across species and stimuli. People group things together based on their similarity, both during visual processing and categorization. Research suggests that memories are retrieved when they involve similar features or similar processing to a current situation. Problem solutions are likely to be retrieved from similar prior problems, inductive inference is largely based on the similarity between the known and unknown cases, and the list goes on and on.
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Brunel, L., Goldstone, R. L., Vallet, G. Riou, V., & Versace, R. (2013). When Seeing a Dog Activates the Bark: Multisensory Generalization and Distinctiveness Effects. Experimental Psychology, 60, 100-112.
The goal of the present study was to find evidence for a multisensory generalization effect (i.e., generalization from one sensory modality to another sensory modality). The authors used an innovative paradigm (adapted from Brunel, Labeye, Lesourd, & Versace, 2009) involving three phases: a learning phase, consisting in the categorization of geometrical shapes, which manipulated the rules of association between shapes and a sound feature, and two test phases. The first of these was designed to examine the priming effect of the geometrical shapes seen in the learning phase on target tones (i.e., priming task), while the aim of the second was to examine the probability of recognizing the previously learned geometrical shapes (i.e., recognition task). When a shape category was mostly presented with a sound during learning, all of the primes (including those not presented with a sound in the learning phase) enhanced target processing compared to a condition in which the primes were mostly seen without a sound during learning. A pattern of results consistent with this initial finding was also observed during recognition, with the participants being unable to pick out the shape seen without a sound during the learning phase. Experiment 1 revealed a multisensory generalization effect across the members of a category when the objects belonging to the same category share the same value on the shape dimension. However, a distinctiveness effect was observed when a salient feature distinguished the objects within the category (Experiment 2a vs. 2b).
Braithwaite, D. W, & Goldstone, R. L. (2013). Benefits of Graphical and Symbolic Representations for Learning and Transfer of Statistical Concepts. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fifth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1928-1933). Berlin, Germany: Cognitive Science Society.
Past research suggests that spatial configurations play an important role in graph comprehension. The present study investigates consequences of this fact for the relative utility of graphs and tables for interpreting data. Participants judged presence or absence of various statistical effects in simulated datasets presented in various formats. For the statistical effects introduced earlier in the study, performance was better with graphs than with tables, while for the effect introduced last in the study, this trend reversed. Additionally, in the later sections of the study, responses with graphs, but not tables, reflected increasing influence from the presence of stimulus features which had been relevant earlier in the study, but were no longer relevant. The findings suggest that graphs, relative to tables, may better facilitate perception of complex relationships among data points, but may also bias readers more strongly to favor some perspectives over others when interpreting data.
Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2013). How to present exemplars of several categories? Interleave during active learning and block during passive learning. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fifth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1982-1987). Berlin, Germany: Cognitive Science Society.
Research on how information should be presented during inductive category learning has identified both interleaving of categories and blocking by category as beneficial for learning. Previous work suggests that this mixed evidence can be reconciled by taking into account within- and between-category similarity relations. In this paper we present a new moderating factor. One group of participants studied categories actively, either interleaved or blocked. Another group studied the same categories passively. Results from a subsequent generalization task show that active learning benefits from interleaved presentation while passive learning benefits from blocked presentation.
Weitnauer, E., Carvalho, P. F., Goldstone, R. L., & Ritter, H. (2013). Grouping by Similarity Helps Concept Learning. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fifth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 3747-3752). Berlin, Germany: Cognitive Science Society.
In inductive learning, the order in which concept instances are presented plays an important role in learning performance. Theories predict that interleaving instances of different concepts is especially beneficial if the concepts are highly similar to each other, whereas blocking instances belonging to the same concept provides an advantage for learning lowsimilarity concept structures. This leaves open the question of the relative influence of similarity on interleaved versus blocked presentation. To answer this question, we pit withinand between-category similarity effects against each other in a rich categorization task called Physical Bongard Problems. We manipulate the similarity of instances shown temporally close to each other with blocked and interleaved presentation. The results indicate a stronger effect of similarity on interleaving than on blocking. They further show a large benefit of comparing similar between-category instances on concept learning tasks where the feature dimensions are not known in advance but have to be constructed.
Hansen, M. E., Lumsdaine, A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2013). An experiment on the cognitive complexity of code. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fifth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Berlin, Germany: Cognitive Science Society.
What simple factors impact the cognitive complexity of code? We present an experiment in which participants predict the output of ten small Python programs. Even with such simple programs, we find a complex relationship between code, expertise, and correctness. We use subtle differences between program versions to demonstrate that small notational changes can have profound effects on comprehension. We catalog common errors for each program, and perform an in-depth data analysis to uncover effects on response correctness and speed.
Programming language and library designers often debate the usability of particular design choices. These choices may impact many developers, yet scientific evidence for them is rarely provided. Cognitive models of program comprehension have existed for over thirty years, but lack quantitative definitions of their internal components and processes. To ease the burden of quantifying existing models, we recommend using the ACT-R cognitive architecture: a simulation framework for psychological models. In this paper, we provide a high-level overview of modern cognitive architectures while concentrating on the details of ACT-R. We review an existing quantitative program comprehension model, and consider how it could be simplified and implemented within the ACT-R framework. Lastly, we discuss the challenges and potential benefits associated with building a comprehensive cognitive model on top of a cognitive architecture.
After more than 100 years of interest and study, knowledge transfer remains among the most challenging, contentious, and important issues for both psychology and education. In this article, we review and discuss many of the more important ideas and findings from the existing research and attempt to bridge this body of work with the exciting new research directions suggested by the following articles.
Understanding how to get learners to transfer their knowledge to new situations is a topic of both theoretical and practical importance. Theoretically, it touches on core issues in knowledge representation, analogical reasoning, generalization, embodied cognition, and concept formation. Practically, learning without transfer of what has been learned is almost always unproductive and inefficient. Although schools often measure the efficiency of learning in terms of speed and retention of knowledge, a relatively neglected and subtler component of efficiency is the generality and applicability of the acquired knowledge. This special issue of Educational Psychologist collects together new approaches toward understanding and fostering appropriate transfer in learners. Three themes that emerge from the collected articles are (a) the importance of the perspective/stance of the learner for achieving robust transfer, (b) the neglected role of motivation in determining transfer, and (c) the existence of specific, validated techniques for teaching with an eye toward facilitating students’ transfer of their learning.
Son, J. Y., Smith, L. B., Goldstone, R. L., & Leslie, M. (2012). The Importance of Being Interpreted: Grounded Words and Children’s Relational Reasoning, Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 3, 1-12.
Although young children typically have trouble reasoning relationally, they are aided by the presence of relational words (e.g., Gentner & Rattermann, 1991). They also reason well about commonly experienced event structures (e.g., Fivush, 1984). Relational words may benefit relational reasoning because they activate well-understood event structures. Two candidate hypotheses were tested: (1) the Schema hypothesis, according to which words help relational reasoning because they are grounded in schematized experiences and (2) the Optimal Vagueness hypothesis, by which words benefit relational reasoning because the activated schema is open enough (without too much specificity) so that it can be applied analogically to novel problems. Four experiments examine these two hypotheses by examining how training with a label influences schematic interpretations of a scene, the kinds of scenes that are conducive to schematic interpretations, and whether children must figure out the interpretation themselves to benefit from the act of interpreting a scene as an event. Experiment 1 shows the superiority of schema-evoking words over words that do not connect to schematized experiences. Experiments 2 and 3 further reveal that these words must be applied to vaguely related perceptual instances rather than unrelated or concretely related instances in order to draw attention to relational structure. Experiment 4 provides evidence that even when children do not work out an interpretation for themselves, just the act of interpreting an ambiguous scene is potent for relational generalization. The present results suggest that relational words (and in particular their meanings) are created from the act of interpreting a perceptual situation in the context of a word grounded in meaningful experiences.
Braithwaite, D. W., & Goldstone, R. L. (2012). Inducing mathematical concepts from specific examples: The role of schema-level variation. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 138-143). Sapporo, Japan: Cognitive Science Society.
Previous research suggests that comparing multiple specific examples of a general concept can promote knowledge transfer. The present study investigated whether this approach could be made more effective by systematic variation in the semantic content of the specific examples. Participants received instruction in a mathematical concept in the context of several examples, which instantiated either a single semantic schema (non-varied condition) or two different schemas (varied condition). Schema-level variation during instruction led to better knowledge transfer, as predicted. However, this advantage was limited to participants with relatively high performance before instruction. Variation also improved participants’ ability to describe the target concept in abstract terms. Surprisingly, however, this ability was not associated with successful knowledge transfer.
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Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2012). Category structure modulates interleaving and blocking advantage in inductive category acquisition. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 186-191). Sapporo, Japan: Cognitive Science Society.
Research in inductive category learning has demonstrated that interleaving exemplars of categories results in better performance than presenting each category in a separate block. Two experiments indicate that the advantage of interleaved over blocked presentation is modulated by the structure of the categories being presented. More specifically, interleaved presentation results in better performance for categories with high within- and between-category similarity while blocked presentation results in better performance for categories with low within- and between-category similarity.
This interaction is predicted by accounts in which blocking promotes discovery of features shared by the members of a category whereas interleaving promotes discovery of features that discriminate between categories.
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Engle, J. T. Feng, Y., Goldstone, R. L. (2012). Mining relatedness graphs for data integration. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1524-1529). Sapporo, Japan: Cognitive Science Society.
In this paper, we present the AbsMatcher system for schema matching which uses a graph based approach. The primary contribution of this paper is the development of new types of relationships for generating graph edges and the effectiveness of integrating schemas using those graphs. AbsMatcher creates a graph of related attributes within a schema, mines similarity between attributes in different schemas, and then combines all information using the ABSURDIST graph matching algorithm. The attribute-to-attribute relationships this paper focuses on are semantic in nature and have few requirements for format or structure. These relationships sources provide a baseline which can be improved upon with relationships specific to formats, such as XML or a relational database. Simulations demonstrate how the use of automatically mined graphs of within-schema relationships, when combined with cross-schema pair-wise similarity, can result in matching accuracy not attainable by either source of information on its own.
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Hendrickson, A. T., Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2012). Going to extremes: The influence of unsupervised categories on the mental caricaturization of faces and asymmetries in perceptual discrimination. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1662-1667). Sapporo, Japan: Cognitive Science Society.
Recent re-analysis of traditional Categorical Perception (CP) effects show that the advantage for between category judgments may be due to asymmetries of within-category judgments (Hanley & Roberson, 2011). This has led to the hypothesis that labels cause CP effects via these asymmetries due to category label uncertainty near the category boundary. In Experiment 1 we demonstrate that these “within-category” asymmetries exist before category training begins. Category learning does increase the within-category asymmetry on a category relevant dimension but equally on an irrelevant dimension. Experiment 2 replicates the asymmetry found in Experiment 1 without training and shows that it does not increase with additional exposure in the absence of category training. We conclude that the within-category asymmetry may be a result of unsupervised learning of stimulus clusters that emphasize extreme instances and that category training increases this caricaturization of stimulus representations.
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Hendrickson, A. T., Kachergis, G., Fausey, C. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2012). Re-learning labeled categories reveals structured representations. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1668-1673). Sapporo, Japan: Cognitive Science Society.
How do people learn to group and re-group objects into labeled categories? In this paper, we examine mechanisms that guide how people re-represent categories. In two experiments, we examine what is easy and what is hard to relearn as people update their knowledge about labeled groups of objects. In Study 1, we test how people learn and re-learn to group objects that share no perceptual features. Data suggest that people easily learn to re-label objects when the category structure remains the same. In Study 2, we test whether more general types of labeling conventions — words that do or do not correspond with object similarities — influence learning and re-learning. Data suggest that people are able to learn either kind of convention and may have trouble switching between them when re-structuring their knowledge. Implications for category learning, second language acquisition and updating representations are discussed.
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Ottmar, E., Landy, D., & Goldstone, R. L. (2012). Teaching the Perceptual Structure of Algebraic Expressions: Preliminary Findings from the Pushing Symbols Intervention. Proceedings of the Thirty- Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2156-2161). Sapporo, Japan: Cognitive Science Society.
We describe an intervention being developed by our research team, Pushing Symbols (PS). This intervention is designed to encourage learners to treat symbol systems as physical objects that move and change over time according to dynamic principles. We provide students with the opportunities to explore algebraic structure by physically manipulating and interacting with concrete and virtual symbolic systems that enforce rules through constraints on physical transformations. Here we present an instantiation of this approach aimed at helping students learn the structure of algebraic notation in general, and in particular learn to simplify like terms. This instantiation combines colored symbol tiles with a new touchscreen software technology adapted from the commercial Algebra Touch software. We present preliminary findings from a study with 70 middle-school students who participated in the PS intervention over a three-hour period.
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Terai, A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2012). An Experimental Examination of Emergent Features in Metaphor Interpretation Using Semantic Priming Effects. Proceedings of the Thirty- Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2399-2404). Sapporo, Japan: Cognitive Science Society.
In comprehension of the metaphor “TOPIC is VEHICLE,” emergent features in the interpretation of metaphors are characteristic neither of the topic nor the vehicle. An experiment examines the hypothesis that new features emerge as metaphoric interpretations through association with nonemergent features connected with the topic, vehicle, or both. In the experiment, participants were presented with a nonemergent feature as a prime, a metaphor, and an emergent feature, sequentially. Participants were then asked to respond as to whether the emergent feature is an appropriate interpretation of the metaphor. The results showed that primed non-emergent features derived from the vehicle facilitate the recognition of emergent features. The results support an account in which new features emerge through two processes – non-emergent features are recognized as interpretations of the metaphor and then these non-emergent features facilitate the recognition of emergent features.
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Goldstone, R. L., Kersten, A., & Cavalho, P. F. (2012). Concepts and Categorization. In A. F. Healy & R. W. Proctor (Eds.) Comprehensive handbook of psychology, Volume 4: Experimental psychology. (pp. 607-630). New Jersey: Wiley.
Issues related to concepts and categorization are nearly ubiquitous in psychology because of people’s natural tendency to perceive a thing as something. We have a powerful impulse to interpret our world. This act of interpretation, an act of “seeing something as X” rather than simply seeing it (Wittgenstein, 1953), is fundamentally an act of categorization. The attraction of research on concepts is that an extremely wide variety of cognitive acts can be understood as categorizations (Murphy, 2002).
Goldstone, R. L., Braithwaite, D. W., & Byrge, L. A. (2012). Perceptual learning. In N. M. Seel (Ed.) Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. Heidelberg, German: Springer Verlag GmbH. (pp. 2616-2619).
Perceptual learning consists of long-lasting changes to an organismʼs perceptual system that improve its ability to respond to its environment in specific ways. These changes persist over time; more ephemeral perceptual changes are typically considered to be adaptation, attentional processes, or strategy shifts, rather than perceptual learning. These changes are due to environmental inputs; perceptual changes not coupled to the environment are considered maturation, rather than learning. Perceptual learning benefits an organism by tailoring the processes that gather information to the organismʼs needs for and uses of information.
One of the challenges for perceptually grounded accounts of high-level cognition is to explain how people make connections and draw inferences between situations that superficially have little in common. Evidence suggests that people draw these connections even without having explicit, verbalizable knowledge of their bases. Instead, the connections are based on sub-symbolic representations that are grounded in perception, action, and space. One reason why people are able to spontaneously see relations between situations that initially appear to be unrelated is that their eventual perceptions are not restricted to initial appearances. Training and strategic deployment allow our perceptual processes to deliver outputs that would have otherwise required abstract or formal reasoning. Even without people having any privileged access to the internal operations of perceptual modules, these modules can be systematically altered so as to better subserve our high-level reasoning needs. Moreover, perceptually-based processes can be altered in a number of ways to closely approximate formally sanctioned computations.
We implemented a problem-solving task in which groups of participants simultaneously played a simple innovation game in a complex problem space, with score feedback provided after each of a number of rounds. Each participant in a group was allowed to view and imitate the guesses of others during the game. The results showed the use of social learning strategies previously studied in other species, and demonstrated benefits of social learning and nonlinear effects of group size on strategy and performance. Rather than simply encouraging conformity, groups provided information to each individual about the distribution of useful innovations in the problem space. Imitation facilitated innovation rather than displacing it, because the former allowed good solutions to be propagated and preserved for further cumulative innovations in the group. Participants generally improved their solutions through the use of fairly conservative strategies, such as changing only a small portion of one’s solution at a time, and tending to imitate solutions similar to one’s own. Changes in these strategies over time had the effect of making solutions increasingly entrenched, both at individual and group levels. These results showed evidence of nonlinear dynamics in the decentralization of innovation, the emergence of group phenomena from complex interactions of individual efforts, stigmergy in the use of social information, and dynamic tradeoffs between exploration and exploitation of solutions. These results also support the idea that innovation and creativity can be recognized at the group level even when group members are generally cautious and imitative.
Frey, S., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Going with the group in a competitive game of iterated reasoning. Proceedings of the Thirty-Third Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1912-1917). Boston, Massachusetts: Cognitive Science Society.
In some strategic games, thinking ahead about other players’ reasoning can lead to better predictions about what they will do. In other games, infinitely iterated reasoning ultimately prescribes random play. In an online experiment of strategic thinking in groups, we tested participants in a game with the formal structure of a random game, but the superficial struc- ture of a game that rewards iterated reasoning. We found that participants conformed to the superficial structure of the game, and earned more than they would have by playing randomly. We estimated how many steps participants thought ahead in the game and discovered implicit coordination at the group level. Participants unexpectedly “matched” their degree of iterated thinking to each other.
Goldstone, R. L., Son, J. Y, & Byrge, L. (2011). Early perceptual learning. Infancy, 16, 45-51.
Bhatt and Quinn (2011) present a compelling case that human learning is early in two very different, but interacting, senses. Learning is developmentally early in that even infants show strikingly robust adaptation to the structures present in their world. Learning is also early in an information processing sense because infants’ adapt their perceptual encodings and organizations at an early stage of neural processing. Both senses of ”early” speak to the importance of learning because they imply that learners are adapting their representations of their environment in a way that affects all ”down-stream” processing. Developmentally speaking, the learning that an infant enacts serves as the groundwork for all subsequent learning. In terms of information processing, adapting early-stage sensory and perceptual processes in turn affects all subsequent cognitive processes. There is evidence from neuroscience that interactions with an environment do cause early changes to primarysensory cortices (Goldstone, 1998; Vogels, 2010). One might generally suppose that it is advisable to be conservative in making such environment driven cortical changes, given the ripples of influence caused by early learning in both senses. Manipulating grounding representations is a risky proposition. However, the evidence indicates that systems that need to respond effectively to their environment need to engage in both kinds of learning.
Roberts, M. E., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Adaptive Group Coordination and Role Differentiation. PLoS One, 6, 1-8.
Many real world situations (potluck dinners, academic departments, sports teams, corporate divisions, committees, seminar classes, etc.) involve actors adjusting their contributions in order to achieve a mutually satisfactory group goal, a win-win result. However, the majority of human group research has involved situations where groups perform poorly because task constraints promote either individual maximization behavior or diffusion of responsibility, and even successful tasks generally involve the propagation of one correct solution through a group. Here we introduce a group task that requires complementary actions among participants in order to reach a shared goal. Without communication, group members submit numbers in an attempt to collectively sum to a randomly selected target number. After receiving group feedback, members adjust their submitted numbers until the target number is reached. For all groups, performance improves with task experience, and group reactivity decreases over rounds. Our empirical results provide evidence for adaptive coordination in human groups, and as the coordination costs increase with group size, large groups adapt through spontaneous role differentiation and self-consistency among members. We suggest several agent-based models with different rules for agent reactions, and we show that the empirical results are best fit by a flexible, adaptive agent strategy in which agents decrease their reactions when the group feedback changes. The task offers a simple experimental platform for studying the general problem of group coordination while maximizing group returns, and we distinguish the task from several games in behavioral game theory.
Sang, K., Todd, P. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Learning near-optimal search in a minimal explore/exploit task. Proceedings of the Thirty-Third Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2800-2805). Boston, Massachusetts: Cognitive Science Society.
How well do people search an environment for non-depleting resources of different quality, where it is necessary to switch between exploring for new resources and exploiting those already found? Employing a simple card selection task to study exploitation and exploration, we find that the total resources accrued, the number of switches between exploring and exploiting, and the number of trials until stable exploitation becomes more similar to those of the optimal strategy as experience increases across searches. Subjects learned to adjust their effective (implicit) thresholds for exploitation toward the optimal threshold over 30 searches. Those implicit thresholds decrease over turns within each search, just as the optimal threshold does, but subjects’ explicitly stated exploitation threshold increases over turns. Nonetheless, both the explicit and learned implicit thresholds produced performance close to optimal.
Son, J. Y., Smith, L. B., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Connecting instances to promote children’s relational reasoning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 260-277.
The practice of learning from multiple instances seems to allow children to learn about relational structure. The experiments reported here have focused on two issues regarding relational learning from multiple instances: (1) what kind of perceptual situations foster such learning and (2) how particular object properties, such as complexity or similarity, interact with relational learning. Two kinds of perceptual situations were of interest here: simultaneous view, where instances are viewed at once, and sequential view, instances are viewed one at a time, one right after the other. We examine the influence of particular perceptual situations and object properties using two tests of relational reasoning: a common match-to-sample task (where new instances are compared to a common sample) and a variable match-to-sample task (where new instances are compared to a sample that varies on each trial). Experiments 1 and 2 indicate that simultaneous presentation of even highly dissimilar instances, one simple and one complex, effectively connects them together and improves relational generalization in both match-to-sample tasks. Experiment 3 showed simple samples are more effective than complex ones in the common match-to-sample task. However, when one instance is not used a common sample and various pairs of instances are simply compared (Experiment 4), simple and rich instances are equally effective at promoting relational learning. These results bear on our understanding of how children connect instances and how those initial connections affect learning and generalization.
Terai, A. & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Processing emergent features in metaphor comprehension. Proceedings of the Thirty-Third Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2043-2048). Boston, Massachusetts: Cognitive Science Society.
This study examines the processing of emergent features in metaphors. Emergent features are metaphoric interpretations that are characteristic neither of the target nor the vehicle. In the first experiment, participants were asked to respond as to whether a verbal feature is an appropriate interpretation of the metaphor, which was presented as a prime. They are asked to respond immediately after a tone is presented which has a variable temporal lag after the feature. The timing of each tone controlled the participants’ response times. The results show that the response deadline given to the participants only slightly affected their judgments. In a second experiment, the time to interpret a metaphor was controlled by varying the pre- sentation time of the metaphor. The results showed that emer- gent features require more time for recognition as a metaphoric interpretation than do non-emergent features. The results sup- port the hypothesis that interaction among features causes feature emergence.
Shyi, G. S. -W., Goldstone, R. L., Hummel, J. E., & Lin, C. (submitted). Computing representations for bound and unbound object matching.
Five experiments examined the nature of object representation. Participants made same-different judgments between two multipart 3-D objects, according to rules where either the object parts and their spatial relationship had to be considered (role-relevant, RR) or just the object parts (role-irrelevant, RI). Results indicate that it was easiest to judge two identical and orientationally aligned objects according to either rule, followed by judging those that shared identical parts located in different positions according to the RI rule. It was most difficult to judge the latter according to the RR rule when they were misaligned by rotation. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that object representations at the image level, part level, or full structural description level may be computed and used for making same-different judgements. The implications of our findings for object recognition in general and the role of spatial attention in particular are discussed.
Day, S. B., Manlove, S., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Transfer, and the effects of context outside of the training task. Proceedings of the Thirty-Third Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2637-2642). Boston, Massachusetts: Cognitive Science Society.
While the use of concrete, contextualized and personally relevant examples can benefit learners in terms of comprehension and motivation, these types of examples can come with a cost. Examples may become too bound to their particular context, and individuals may have a difficult time recognizing when the underlying principles are relevant in new situations. In the current study, we provide evidence that contextualization may impair knowledge transfer even when that context occurs outside of the training example itself. Specifically, when students were taught about positive feedback systems in the context of polar ice-albedo effects, those individuals that had previously learned about the effects of global warming on polar bear populations showed reliably poorer transfer performance.
Day, S., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Analogical transfer from a simulated physical system. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37,551-567.
Previous research has consistently found that spontaneous analogical transfer is strongly tied to concrete and contextual similarities between the cases. However, that work has largely failed to acknowledge that the relevant factor in transfer is the similarity between individuals’ mental representations of the situations, rather than the overt similarities between the cases themselves. Across several studies, we find that participants are able to transfer strategies learned from a perceptually concrete simulation of a physical system to a task with very dissimilar content and appearance. This transfer is reflected in better performance on the transfer task when its underlying dynamics are consistent rather than inconsistent with the preceding training task. Our data indicate that transfer in these tasks relies on the perceptual and spatial nature of the training task, but does not depend on direct interaction with the system, with participants performing equally well after simply observing the concrete simulation. We argue that participants in these studies are using the concrete, spatial, dynamic information presented in the training simulation as the basis for a concretely similar mental model of the dissimilar transfer task. Unexpectedly, our data consistently showed that transfer was independent of reported recognition of the analogy between tasks: while such recognition was associated with better overall performance, it was not associated with better transfer (in terms of applying an appropriate strategy). Together, these findings suggest that analogical transfer between overtly dissimilar cases may be much more common—and much more relevant to our cognitive processing—than is generally assumed.
Byrge, L. A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Distinguishing levels of grounding that underlie transfer of learning. Proceedings of the Thirty-Third Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2818-2823). Boston, Massachusetts: Cognitive Science Society.
We find that transfer of learning from a perceptually concrete simulation to an isomorphic but superficially dissimilar text- based problem is sensitive to the congruence between the force dynamics common to both systems and the kinesthetic schema induced via action in the first, perceptually concrete, simulation. Counterintuitively, incompatibility between the force dynamics and the kinesthetic schema has a beneficial effect on transfer, relative to compatibility as well as an unrelated control. We suggest that this incompatibility between action and system dynamics may make the system’s relational structure more salient, leading to a more flexible conceptualization that ultimately benefits transfer. In addition, we suggest that too much “action concreteness” in hands-on learning may actually limit transfer, by fostering an understanding that is tied to that action and therefore less available for transfer in situations where that action is no longer relevant.
Braithwaite, D. W., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Effects of grounded and formal representations on combinatorics learning. Proceedings of the Thirty-Third Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 3431-3436). Boston, Massachusetts: Cognitive Science Society.
Two experiments examined the differential effects of ground- ed and formal representations on learning of mathematics. Both involved combinatorics, using outcome listing and com- binatorics formulas as examples of grounded and formal rep- resentations, respectively. Experiment 1 compared perfor- mance on near and far transfer problems following instruc- tions involving listing or formulas. Instruction in formulas led to more near transfer, while far transfer performance did not differ by condition. Experiment 2 compared performance fol- lowing four types of instruction: listing only, formulas only, listing fading (listing followed by formulas), and listing intro- duction (formulas followed by listing). The listing fading condition led to performance on par with the formulas only condition, and for near transfer problems, significantly higher than the listing introduction and pure listing conditions. The results support the inclusion of grounded representations in combinatorics instruction, and suggest that such representa- tions should precede rather than follow formal representations in the instructional sequence.
Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011). Sequential similarity and comparison effects in category learning. Proceedings of the Thirty-Third Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2977-2982). Boston, Massachusetts: Cognitive Science Society.
Order effects in category learning have been previously demonstrated. Specifically, alternation between exemplars of two categories has been shown to improve category learning and discrimination, compared to presenting exemplars of each category in separate blocks. However, the mechanisms under- lying order effects are still not completely known. Remaining issues pertain to the relevance of within and between category similarities, and the role of comparing sequentially presented objects. We present two experiments: in Experiment 1 within- and between-category similarity are manipulated simultane- ously with presentation schedule. In Experiment 2, alternation between categories is compared to two blocked conditions: one in which very similar stimuli are presented successively, and another in which they are dissimilar. Our results show a clear overall advantage of low similarity in categorization performance, but no effect of presentation schedule. Also, al- ternation between categories is shown to result in better per- formance than the blocked condition with more dissimilar stimuli.
Bechtel, W., Behrmann, M., Chater, N., Glushko, R. J., Goldstone, R. L., & Smolensky, P. (2010). The Rumelhart Prize at 10. Cognitive Science, 34, 713-715.
At the August 2000 meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Dr. James L. McClelland and Dr. Robert J. Glushko presented the initial plan to honor the intellectual contributions of David E. Rumelhart to cognitive science by awarding an annual prize of $100,000 funded by the Robert J. Glushko and Pamela Samuelson Foundation. McClelland was a close collaborator of Rumelhart, and together they had written numerous articles and books on parallel distributed processing. Glushko, who had been Rumelhart’s PhD student in the late 1970s and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur in the 1990s, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Califonria, Berkeley. Rumelhart had just retired from Stanford University in 1998, suffering from Pick’s disease, a degenerative neurological illness. The David E. Rumelhart prize was conceived to honor outstanding research in formal approaches to human cognition. Rumelhart’s own seminal contributions to cognitive science included both connectionist and symbolic models, employing both computational and mathematical tools. These contributions progressed from his early work on analogies and story grammars to the development of back-propagation and the use of parallel, distributed processing to model various cognitive abilities. Critically, Rumelhart believed that future progress in cognitive science would depend upon researchers being able to develop rigorous, formal theories of mental structures and processes.
Day, S., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010). The Effects of Similarity and Individual differences on Comparison and Transfer. Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 465-470). Portland, Oregon: Cognitive Science Society.
Prior research has found that while people are generally quite poor at recognizing when a new situation is structurally similar to a known case, comparison of two analogous cases greatly improves the likelihood of achieving such recognition. Our study examines the effects of varying the similarity between these compared cases, both featurally and structurally. We find that between-case similarity has a significant impact on transfer, and that these effects interact with characteristics of the learner.
Frey, S., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010). Functional Structure and Coordination Failure in Real-Time Group Behavior. Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 2093-2098). Portland, Oregon: Cognitive Science Society.
We reveal spontaneous group formation and differentiation in an online dynamic coordination experiment. We observe increased group stratification and attribute it to increases in pairwise cooperative behavior, rather than uncooperative behavior. Our network analyses document the fine scale structure of coordination failure in the face of many established determinants of coordination success. We explore previous work in coordination failure to frame our own findings. Factors that have been previously shown to improve coordination in discretetime, forced-decision experimental games do not prevent decisive coordination failure in our real-time, asynchronous group decision-making environment.
Goldstone, R. L., Hills, T. T., & Day, S. B. (2010). Concept formation. In. I. B. Weiner & W. E. Craighead (Eds.) The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons. (pp. 381-383).
A concept is a mentally possessed idea or notion that can be used to categorize information or objects. Over the course of each person’s lifetime, thousands of concepts are learned, for nouns like corkscrew, justice, and doorknob, adjectives like green, symmetric, and beautiful, and verbs like kick, climb, and eschew. While some philosophers have maintained that we do not genuinely learn new concepts through induction (Fodor, 1988), most psychologists believe that concepts can be learned, and that the representational capacity of the learner increases as they acquire new concepts. Most efforts have been spent developing accounts of how people acquire and represent concepts, including models based on: rules, prototypes, exemplars, boundaries, and theories.
Goldstone, R. L., & Landy, D. H. (2010). Domain-creating constraints. Cognitive Science.
The contributions to this special issue on cognitive development collectively propose ways in which learning involves developing constraints that shape subsequent learning. A learning system must be constrained to learn efficiently, but some of these constraints are themselves learnable. To know how something will behave, a learner must know what kind of thing it is. While this has led previous researchers to argue for domain-specific constraints that are tied to different kinds/domains, an exciting possibility is that kinds/domains themselves can be learned. General cognitive constraints, when combined with rich inputs, can establish domains, rather than these domains necessarily pre-existing prior to learning. Knowledge is structured and richly differentiated, but its “skeleton” must not always be pre-established. Instead, the skeleton may be adapted to fit patterns of co-occurrence, task requirements, and goals. Finally, we argue that for models of development to demonstrate genuine cognitive novelty, it will be helpful for them to move beyond highly pre-processed and symbolic encodings that limit flexibility. We consider two physical models that learn to make tone discriminations. They are mechanistic models that preserve rich spatial, perceptual, dynamic, and concrete information, allowing them to form surprising new classes of hypotheses and encodings.
Goldstone, R. L. (2010). Foreward. in I. Gauthier, M. J. Tarr, & D. Bubb (Eds.) Perceptual expertise: Bridging brain and behavior. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. (pp. v – x).
perceptual learning is important for two reasons—because it is perceptual and because it is learning. Changes to perception are particularly important because they affect all subsequent cognitive processes that occur downstream. There is good evidence, both neurophysiological and behavioral, that perceptual learning can involve early changes to the primary visual, auditory, and somatosensory cortices. One might feel that the early perceptual system ought to be hardwired—it is better not to mess with it if it is going to be depended upon by all processes later in the information processing stream. There is something right with this intuition, but it implicitly buys into a ‘‘stable foundations make strong foundations’’ assumption that it is appropriate for houses of cards, but probably not for flexible cognitive systems. For better models of cognition, we might turn to Birkenstock shoes and suspension bridges, which provide good foundations for their respective feet and cars by flexibly deforming to their charges. Just as a suspension bridge provides better support for cars by conforming to the weight loads, perception supports problem solving and reasoning by conforming to these tasks.
If perceptual learning is crucially perceptual, it is also crucially learning. Consistent with the ripples of downstream influence that early perceptual changes exert, perceptual systems should generally be designed to change slowly and conservatively, so as not to disrupt their downstream consumers. For this reason, this book’s focus on perceptual expertise is appropriate. Expertise typically requires at least 10 years to attain (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993), sufficient time to influence perception, not simply decision trees or explicitly memorized strategies. The protracted time course of acquiring new perceptual tools is certainly frustrating for those in the business of judging wines, rock samples, cell structures, dives, or manufacturing flaws. One of the reasons why wisdom can’t be simply told (Bransford, Franks, Vye, & Sherwood, 1989) but rather must be lived is that wisdom is frequently perceptual and thus must be built into one’s neurological wiring.
Goldstone, R. L., Day, S., & Son, J. Y. (2010). Comparison. In B. Glatzeder, V. Goel, & A. von Müller (Eds.) On thinking: Volume II, towards a theory of thinking. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer Verlag GmbH. (pp. 103-122).
It might not be immediately clear why the topic of comparison warrants a whole chapter in a book on human thinking. Of course, we are often required to make decisions that involve comparing two or more alternatives and assessing their relative value. Which car should I buy? Which job is more suited to my long-term goals? Would I rather have the soup or the salad? But in the grand scheme of human cognition, it might seem that such processes could be relegated to a subheading in a chapter on decision making. In fact, comparison is one of the most integral components of human thought. Along with the related construct of similarity, comparison plays a crucial role in almost everything that we do. Furthermore, comparison itself is a powerful cognitive tool—in addition to its supporting role in other mental processes, research has demonstrated that the simple act of comparing two things can produce important changes in our knowledge.
Goldstone, R. L., & Hendrickson, A. T. (2010). Categorical Perception. Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 1, 65-78.
Categorical perception (CP) is the phenomenon by which the categories possessed by an observer influences their perception. Experimentally, CP is revealed when an observer’s ability to make perceptual discriminations between things is better when those things belong to different categories rather than the same category, controlling for the physical difference between the things. We consider several core questions related to CP: Is it caused by innate and/or learned categories, how early in the information processing stream do categories influence perception, and what is the relation between ongoing linguistic processing and CP? CP for both speech and visual entities are surveyed, as are computational and mathematical models of CP. CP is an important phenomenon in cognitive science because it represents an essential adaptation of perception to support categorizations that an organism needs to make. Sensory signals that could be linearly related to physical qualities are warped in a non-linear manner, transforming analog inputs into quasi-digital, quasi-symbolic encodings.
Goldstone, R. L., Landy, D. H., & Son, J. Y. (2010). The education of perception. Topics in Cognitive Science, 2, 265-284.
While the field of perceptual learning has mostly been concerned with low- to middle-level changes to perceptual systems due to experience, we consider high-level perceptual changes that accompany learning in science and mathematics. In science, we explore the transfer of a scientific principle (competitive specialization) across superficially dissimilar pedagogical simulations. We argue that transfer occurs when students develop perceptual interpretations of an initial simulation and simply continue to use the same interpretational bias when interacting with a second simulation. In arithmetic and algebraic reasoning, we find that proficiency in mathematics involves executing spatially explicit transformations to notational elements. People learn to attend mathematical operations in the order in which they should be executed, and the extent to which students employ their perceptual attention in this manner is positively correlated with their mathematical experience. For both science and mathematics, relatively sophisticated performance is achieved not by ignoring perceptual features in favor of deep conceptual features, but rather by adapting perceptual processing so as to conform with and support formally sanctioned responses. These “Rigged Up Perceptual Systems” (RUPS) offer a promising approach to educational reform.
Gureckis, T. M. and Goldstone, R. L. (2010) Schema. In P. C. Hogan (Ed.) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. (pp. 725-727).
A schema is a high-level conceptual structure or framework that organizes prior experience and helps us to interpret new situations. The key function of a schema is to provide a summary of our past experiences by abstracting out their important and stable components. For example, we might have a schema for a classroom that includes the fact that it typically contains a chalkboard, bookshelves, and chairs. Schemas provide a framework for rapidly processing information in our environment. For example, each time we enter a classroom, we do not have to consider each element in the room individually (e.g., chair, table, chalkboard). Instead, our schemas “fi ll in” what we naturally expect to be present, helping to reduce cognitive load. Similarly, schemas also allow us to predict or infer unknown information in completely new situations. If we read about a third grade classroom in a book, we can use our established classroom schema to predict aspects of its appearance, including the presence of a coatroom and the types of posters that might decorate the walls.
Hendrickson, A. T., Kachergis, G., Gureckis, T. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010). The effect of verbal interference and the internal structure of categories on perceptual discrimination.Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1216-1221). Portland, Oregon: Cognitive Science Society.
Recent research has argued that categorization is strongly tied to language processing. For example, language (in the form of verbal category labels) has been shown to influence perceptual discriminations of color (Winawer et al., 2007). However, does this imply that categorical perception is essentially verbally mediated perception? The present study extends recent findings in our lab showing that categorical perception can occur even in the absence of overt labels. In particular, we evaluate the degree to which certain interference tasks (verbal, spatial) reduce the effect of learned categorical perception for complex visual stimuli (faces). Contrary to previous findings, our results show that a verbal interference task does not disrupt learned categorical perception effects for faces. Our results are interpreted in light of the ongoing debate about the role of language in categorization. In particular, we suggest that at least a sub-set of categorical perception effects may be effectively “language-free”.
Hills, T. T., Todd, P. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010). Priming a Central Executive Search Process: Exploration and Exploitation in Generalized Cognitive Search Processes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 139, 560-609.
The trade-off between exploration and exploitation is common to a wide variety of problems involving search in space and mind. The prevalence of this trade-off and its neurological underpinnings led us to propose domain-general cognitive search processes (Hills, Todd, & Goldstone, 2008). We propose further that these are consistent with the idea of a central executive search process that combines goal-handling across subgoal hierarchies. In the present study, we investigate 3 aspects of this proposal. First, the existence of a unitary central executive search process should allow priming from 1 search task to another and at multiple hierarchical levels. We confirm this by showing cross-domain priming from a spatial search task to 2 different cognitive levels within a lexical search task. Second, given the neural basis of the proposed generalized cognitive search process and the evidence that the central executive is primarily engaged during complex tasks, we hypothesize that priming should require search in the sense of a self-regulated making and testing of sequential predictions about the world. This was confirmed by showing that when participants were allowed to collect spatial resources without searching for them, no priming occurred. Finally, we provide a mechanism for the underlying search process and investigate 3 alternative hypotheses for subgoal hierarchies using the central executive as a search process model (CESP). CESP envisions the central executive as having both emergent and unitary processes, with one of its roles being a generalized cognitive search process that navigates goal hierarchies by mediating persistence on and switching between subgoals.
Landy, D. H., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010). Proximity and precedence in arithmetic. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 1953-1968.
How does the physical structure of an arithmetic expression affect the computational processes engaged in by reasoners? In handwritten arithmetic expressions containing both multiplications and additions, terms that are multiplied are often placed physically closer together than terms that are added. Three experiments evaluate the role such physical factors play in how reasoners construct solutions to simple compound arithmetic expressions (such as “2 + 3 × 4”). Two kinds of influence are found: First, reasoners incorporate the physical size of the expression into numerical responses, tending to give larger responses to more widely spaced problems. Second, reasoners use spatial information as a cue to hierarchical expression structure: More narrowly spaced subproblems within an expression tend to be solved first and tend to be multiplied. Although spatial relationships besides order are entirely formally irrelevant to expression semantics, reasoners systematically use these relationships to support their success with various formal properties.
Son, J. Y., Doumas, L. A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010). When do words promote analogical transfer? The Journal of Problem Solving, 3, 52-92.
The purpose of this paper is to explore how and when verbal labels facilitate relational reasoning and transfer. We review the research and theory behind two ways words might direct attention to relational information: (1) words generically invite people to compare and thus highlight relations (the Generic Tokens [GT] hypothesis), and/or (2) words carry semantic cues to common structure (the Cues to Specific Meaning [CSM] hypothesis). Four experiments examined whether learning Signal Detection Theory (SDT) with relational words fostered better transfer than learning without relational words in easily alignable and less alignable situations (testing the GT hypothesis) as well as when the relational words matched and mismatched the semantics of the learning situation (testing the CSM hypothesis). The results of the experiments found support for the GT hypothesis because the presence of relational labels produced better transfer when two situations were alignable. Although the CSM hypothesis does not explain how words facilitate transfer, we found that mismatches between words and their labeled referents can produce a situation where words hinder relational learning.
Theiner, G, Allen, C., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010). Recognizing group cognition. Cognitive Systems Research, 11, 378-395.
In this paper, we approach the idea of group cognition from the perspective of the ”extended mind” thesis, as a special case of the more general claim that systems larger than the individual human, but containing that human, are capable of cognition (Clark, 2008; Clark & Chalmers, 1998). Instead of deliberating about ”the mark of the cognitive” (Adams & Aizawa, 2008), our discussion of group cognition is tied to particular cognitive capacities. We review recent studies of group problem solving and group memory which reveal that specific cognitive capacities that are commonly ascribed to individuals are also aptly ascribed at the level of groups. These case studies show how dense interactions among people within a group lead to both similarity-inducing and differentiating dynamics that affect the group’s ability to solve problems. This supports our claim that groups have organization-dependent cognitive capacities that go beyond the simple aggregation of the cognitive capacities of individuals. Group cognition is thus an emergent phenomenon in the sense of Wimsatt (1986). We further argue that anybody who rejects our strategy for showing that cognitive properties can be instantiated at multiple levels in the organizational hierarchy on a priori grounds is a ”demergentist,” and thus incurs the burden of proof for explaining why cognitive properties are ”stuck” at a certain level of organizational structure. Finally, we show that our analysis of group cognition escapes the ”coupling-constitution” charge that has been leveled against the extended mind thesis (Adams & Aizawa, 2008).
Wisdom, T. N., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010). Social Learning and Cumulative Mutual Improvement in a Networked Group. Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1405-1410). Portland, Oregon: Cognitive Science Society.
We used a simple problem-solving game task to study imitation and innovation in groups of participants. Guesses were composed of multiple elements with linear and interactive effects on score, and score feedback was provided after each of a number of rounds. Participants were allowed to view and imitate the guesses of others during each round, and the score information accompanying others’ guesses was either shown or hidden in two conditions. When scores were not visible, social learning was impeded; participants were less efficient in their searching of the problem space and achieved lower performance overall. When scores were visible, higher performance was observed, and results indicated a more equitable sharing of productive exploration among participants within groups as a result of selective imitation and cross-participant cumulative mutual innovations.
Barab, S., Scott, B., Siyahhan, S. Goldstone, R. L., Ingram-Goble, A., Zuiker, S., & Warren, S. (2009). Transformational play as a curricular scaffold: Using videogames to support science education Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18, 305-320.
Drawing on game-design principles and an underlying situated theoretical perspective, we developed and researched a 3D game-based curriculum designed to teach water quality concepts. We compared undergraduate student dyads assigned randomly to four different instructional design conditions where the content had increasingly level of contextualization: (a) expository textbook condition, (b) simplistic framing condition, (c) immersive world condition, and a (d) single-user immersive world condition. Results indicated that the 3D-dyad and 3D-single user conditions performed significantly better than the electronic textbook group on standardized items. The immersive-world dyad condition also performed significantly better than either the expository textbook or the descriptive framing condition on a performance-based transfer task, and performed significantly better than the expository textbook condition on standardized test items. Implications for science education, and consistent with the goals of this special issue, are that immersive game-based learning environments provide a powerful new form of curriculum for teaching and learning science.
Gureckis, T. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009). How you named your child: Understanding the relationship between individual decision-making and collective outcomes. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1, 651-674.
We examine the interdependence between individual and group behavior surrounding a somewhat arbitrary, real world decision: selecting a name for
one’s child. Using a historical database of the names given to children over the last century in the United States, we nd that naming choices are influenced by both the frequency of a name in the general population, and by its “momentum” in the recent past in the sense that names which are growing in popularity are preferentially chosen. This bias toward rising names is a recent phenomena: in the early part of the 20th century, increasing popularity of a name from one time period to the next was correlated with a decrease in future popularity. However, more recently this trend has reversed. We evaluate a number of formal models that detail how individual decision-making strategies, played out in a large population of interacting agents, can explain these empirical observations. We argue that cognitive capacities for change detection, the encoding of frequency in memory, and biases towards novel or incongruous stimuli may interact with the behavior of other decision makers to determine the distribution and dynamics of cultural tokens such as names.
Day, S. B., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009). Analogical transfer from interaction with a simulated physical system. Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 1406-1411. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Cognitive Science Society.
In two studies, we find that participants are able to transfer strategies learned while interacting with a simulated physical system to a dissimilar and less perceptually-concrete domain. Interestingly, performance on the transfer task was completely unrelated to explicit knowledge of the structural correspondences between the systems. We suggest that direct interaction with a concrete system may lead to a kind of procedural knowledge that provides a good basis for analogical transfer.
Gerganov, A., Grinberg, M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009). Partial position transfer in categorical perception learning Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 1828-1833. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Cognitive Science Society.
Two experiments are reported. The first shows incomplete transfer of explicit categorical learning at a distance of 4.5 degrees of visual angle and the second is a control experiment with a non-learning task. The results suggest that some early visual plasticity takes place even in a simple, explicit categorical learning task. We claim that perceptual learning is a much more common phenomenon than believed before and that it plays an important role in everyday tasks including higher-level learning.
Goldstone, R. L. & Gureckis, T. M. (2009). Collective behavior. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1, 412-438.
The resurgence of interest in collective behavior is in large part due to tools recently made available for conducting laboratory experiments on groups, statistical methods for analyzing large data sets reflecting social interactions, the rapid growth of a diverse variety of online self-organized collectives, and computational modeling methods for understanding both universal and scenario-specific social patterns. We consider case studies of collective behavior along four attributes: the primary motivation of individuals within the group, kinds of interactions among individuals, typical dynamics that result from these interactions, and characteristic outcomes at the group level. With this framework, we compare the collective patterns of noninteracting decision makers, bee swarms, groups forming paths in physical and abstract spaces, sports teams, cooperation and competition for resource usage, and the spread and extension of innovations in an online community. Some critical issues surrounding collective behavior are then reviewed, including the questions of ‘‘Does group behavior always reduce to individual behavior?’’ ‘‘Is ‘group cognition’ possible?’’ and ‘‘What is the value of formal modeling for understanding group behavior?’’
Hendrickson, A T., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009). Perceptual unitization in part-whole judgmentsProceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 1084-1089. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Cognitive Science Society.
Categorization relies upon the vocabulary of features that comprise the target objects. Previous theoretical work (Schyns, Goldstone, & Thibaut, 1998) has argued this vocabulary may change through learning and experience. Goldstone (2000) demonstrated this perceptual learning during a categorization task when new features are added that create a single feature unit from multiple existing units. We present two experiments that expand on that work using whole-part judgments (Palmer, 1978) to elicit the feature representation learned through categorization. The implications for different classes of computational models of categorization are discussed.
Landy, D. H., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009). How much of symbolic manipulation is just symbol pushing? Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 1072-1077. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Cognitive Science Society.
This paper explores the hypothesis that schematic abstraction—rule following—is partially implemented through processes and knowledge used to understand motion. Two experiments explore the mechanisms used by reasoners solving simple linear equations with one variable. Participants solved problems displayed against a background that moved rightward or leftward. Solving was facilitated when the background motion moved in the direction of the numeric transposition required to solve for the unknown variable. Previous theorizing has usually assumed that such formal problems are solved through the repeated application of abstract transformation patterns (rules) to equations, replicating the steps produced in typical worked solutions. However, the current results suggest that in addition to such strategies, advanced reasoners often employ a mental motion strategy when manipulating algebraic forms: elements of the problem are “picked up” and “moved” across the equation line. This demonstration supports the suggestion that genuinely schematic reasoning could be implemented in perceptual-motor systems through the simulated transformation of referential (but physical) symbol systems.
Roberts, M. E., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009). Adaptive group coordination, Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. 2698-2704. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Cognitive Science Society.
Human groups exhibit poor performance in many social situations because task constraints promote either individual maximization behavior or diffusion of responsibility. We introduce a group task that tests human coordination when only a shared group goal exists. Without communication, group members submit numbers in an attempt to collectively sum to a randomly selected number. After receiving group feedback, members adjust their submitted numbers in the next round. Small groups generally outperform large groups, and for all groups, performance improves with task experience, and reactivity to feedback decreases over rounds. Our empirical results and computational modeling provide evidence for adaptive coordination in human groups despite minimal shared history and only indirect communication, and perhaps most interestingly, as the coordination costs increase with group size, large groups adapt through spontaneous role differentiation and self-consistency among members.
Roberts, M. E., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009). Sub-optimalities in group foraging and resource competition. , Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society 2371-2377. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Cognitive Science Society.
Previous group foraging research has shown that human groups sub-optimally distribute themselves to resources and display undermatching, with a smaller-than-expected proportion of individuals at the more abundant resource pool. In order to further explore these sub-optimalities, we extended a group foraging paradigm to test three variables: the effects of three resource pools, travel cost between pools, and the size of the pools. Although each condition led to undermatching, the conditions showed significant differences in the extent of undermatching, the frequency of switching between resource pools, the wealth inequality among foragers, and the comparative wealth inequality at different resource pools. The results for the three pool conditions suggest that human groups have difficulty in discriminating the relative value of resource pools. The results for the travel cost conditions indicate that human groups distribute themselves to resources more optimally when individuals can easily switch between pools, which is the opposite of the result found with foraging pigeons. Finally, the results for the pool size conditions indicate that larger pool sizes promote greater undermatching, apparently because individuals inefficiently compete over large areas rather than effectively parceling the pools into smaller, distinct regions.
Son, J. Y., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009). Fostering General Transfer with Specific Simulations.Pragmatics and Cognition, 17, 1-42.
Science education faces the difficult task of helping students understand and appropriately generalize scientific principles across a variety of superficially dissimilar specific phenomena. Can cognitive technologies be adapted to benefit both learning specific domains and generalizable transfer? This issue is examined by teaching students complex adaptive systems with computer-based simulations. With a particular emphasis on fostering understanding that transfers to dissimilar phenomena, the studies reported here examine the influence of different descriptions and perceptual instantiations of the scientific principle of competitive specialization. Experiment 1 examines the role of intuitive descriptions to concrete ones, finding that intuitive descriptions leads to enhanced domain-specific learning but also deters transfer. Experiment 2 successfully alleviated these difficulties by combining intuitive descriptions with idealized graphical elements. Experiment 3 demonstrates that idealized graphics are more effective than concrete graphics even when unintuitive descriptions are applied to them. When graphics are concrete, learning and transfer largely depends on the particular description. However, when graphics are idealized, a wider variety of descriptions results in levels of learning and transfer similar to the best combination involving concrete graphics. Although computer-based simulations can be effective for learning that transfers, designing effective simulations requires an understanding of concreteness and idealization in both the graphical interface and its description.
Son, J. Y., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009). Contextualization in perspective. Cognition and Instruction, 27, 51-89.
Instruction abstracted from specific and concrete examples is frequently criticized for ignoring the context-dependent and perspectival nature of learning (e.g., Bruner, 1962, 1966; Greeno, 1997). Yet, in the effort to create personally interesting learning contexts, cognitive consequences have often been ignored. To examine what kinds of personalized contexts foster or hinder learning and transfer, three manipulations of perspective and context were employed to teach participants Signal Detection Theory (SDT). In all cases, application of SDT principles was negatively impacted by manipulations that encouraged participants to consider the perspective of the signal detector (the decision maker in SDT situations): by giving participants active detection experience (Experiment 1), biasing them to adopt a first-person rather than third-person perspective (Experiment 2), or framing the task in terms of a well-known celebrity (Experiment 3). These contexts run the risk of introducing goals and information that are specific to the detector’s point of view, resulting in sub-optimal understanding of SDT.