Cognitive Architectures: A Way Forward for the Psychology of Programming

Hansen, M. E., Lumsdaine, A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2012).  Cognitive Architectures: A Way Forward for the Psychology of Programming.  Onward! Workshop at the Third Annual SPLASH Conference 2012.

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.

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The import of knowledge export: Connecting findings and theories of transfer of learning

Day, S. B., & Goldstone, R. L. (2012).  The import of knowledge export: Connecting findings and theories of transfer of learning.  Educational Psychologist, 47 , 153-176.

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.

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Introduction to Special Issue “New Conceptualizations of Transfer of Learning.‚ÄĚ

Goldstone, R. L., & Day, S. B. (2012). ¬†Introduction to “New Conceptualizations of Transfer of Learning.‚ÄĚ ¬†Educational Psychologist, 47, 149-152.

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.

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The Importance of Being Interpreted: Grounded Words and Children’s Relational Reasoning

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.

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Inducing mathematical concepts from specific examples: The role of schema-level variation

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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Category structure modulates interleaving and blocking advantage in inductive category acquisition

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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Mining relatedness graphs for data integration

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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Going to extremes: The influence of unsupervised categories on the mental caricaturization of faces and asymmetries in perceptual discrimination

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 ‚Äúwithin-category‚ÄĚ 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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Re-learning labeled categories reveals structured representations

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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Teaching the Perceptual Structure of Algebraic Expressions: Preliminary Findings from the Pushing Symbols Intervention

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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An Experimental Examination of Emergent Features in Metaphor Interpretation Using Semantic Priming Effects

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 ‚ÄúTOPIC is VEHICLE,‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äď 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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Concepts and Categorization

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‚Äôs natural¬†tendency to perceive a thing as¬† something. We have a¬†powerful impulse to interpret our world. This act of interpretation,¬†an act of ‚Äúseeing something as¬† X‚ÄĚ 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).

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Perceptual Learning

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 organism ľs 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 organism ľs needs for and uses of information.

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