A dissociation between engagement and learning: Enthusiastic instructions fail to reliably improve performance on a memory task

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.

Download PDF of article

Categorization and Concepts

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.

download PDF of article

Can we Reproduce it? Toward the Implementation of good Experimental Methodology in Interdisciplinary Robotics Research

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 [5]. 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.

Download PDF of article

Promoting Spontaneous Analogical Transfer by Idealizing Target Representations

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.

Download PDF of article

Even when people are manipulating algebraic equations, they still associate numerical magnitude with space

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.

Download PDF of article

The most efficient sequence of study depends on the type of test

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.

Download PDF of paper

A computer model of context dependent perception in a very simple world

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 Intelligence29:6, 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.

Download PDF of article

Instruction in computer modeling can support broad application of complex systems knowledge

Tullis, J. G., & Goldstone, R. L. (2017).  Instruction in computer modeling can support broad application of complex systems knowledge.  Frontiers in Education, 2:4, 1-18.  doi: 10.3389/feduc.2017.00004

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.

Download PDF of article

The Multiple Interactive Levels of Cognition (MILCS) perspective on group cognition

Goldstone, R. L., & Theiner, G. (2017). The Multiple Interactive Levels of Cognition (MILCS) perspective on group cognition.  Philosophical Psychology, 1-35.  DOI: 10.1080/09515089.2017.1295635

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

Download PDF of article

Adapting perception, action, and technology for mathematical reasoning

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.

Download PDF of article

Organized simultaneous displays facilitate learning of complex natural science categories

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.

Download a PDF of this article

The sequence of study changes what information is attended to, encoded and remembered during category learning

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.

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.

Download a PDF of this article

Transfer of Knowledge

Goldstone, R. L., & Day, S. (2017).  Transfer of knowledge.  In K. Peppler (Ed.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Out-of-school Learning.  Thousand Oaks, CA. (pp. 784-787).

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.

Download a PDF of this article

 

Does successful small-scale coordination help or hinder coordination at larger scales?

Frey, S., & Goldstone, R. L. (2016).  Does successful small-scale coordination help or hinder coordination at larger scales?  Interaction Studies, 17, 371-389.

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.

Download PDF of article

Modeling Mathematical Reasoning as Trained Perception-Action Procedures

Goldstone, R. L., Weitnauer, E., Ottmar, E., Marghetis, T., & Landy, D. H. (2016).   Modeling Mathematical Reasoning as Trained Perception-Action ProceduresIn 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.

Download PDF of paper

Comparison versus reminding

Tullis, J. G. & Goldstone, R. L. (2016).  Comparison versus reminding.  Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 1, 1-20, DOI 10.1186/s41235-016-0028-1.

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.

Download PDF version of paper

Mastering algebra retrains the visual system to perceive hierarchical structure in equations

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 systemin particular, object-based attentionis 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 expressionsbut 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.

Download a PDF version of this paper

Discovering Psychological Principles by Mining Naturally Occurring Data Sets

Goldstone, R. L., & Lupyan, G. (2016).  Harvesting naturally occurring data to reveal principles of cognitionTopics in Cognitive Science, 8, 548-568.

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:

Download a PDF of this paper

Berger, J. (2016). Does presentation order impact choice after delay? Topics in Cognitive Science.

Christiansen, M. H., & Monaghan, P. (2016). Division of labor in vocabulary structure: Insights from corpus analyses. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 670684. doi: 10.1111/tops.12205.

Griffiths, T. L., Abbott, J. T., & Hsu, A. S. (2016). Exploring human cognition using large image databases. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 569588. doi: 10.1111/tops.12209.

Heit, E., & Nicholson, S. P. (2016). Missing the party: Political categorization and reasoning in the absence of party label cues. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 697714. doi: 10.1111/tops.12206.

Koedinger, K. R., Yudelson, M. V., & Pavlik Jr., P. I. (2016). Testing theories of transfer using error rate learning curves. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 589609. doi: 10.1111/tops.12208.

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, 685696. doi: 10.1111/tops.12207.

Pope, D. G. (2016). Exploring psychology in the field: Steps and examples from the used-car market. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 660669. doi: 10.1111/tops.12210.

Vincent-Lamarre, P., Blondin Masse, A., Lopes, M., Lord, M., Marcotte, O., & Harnad, S. (2016). The latent structure of dictionaries. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 625659. doi: 10.1111/tops.12211.

 

Zebras and antelopes: category sparsity as the result of the relations between objects and within categories

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.

Download PDF here

Peer review and competition in the art exhibition game

Balietti, S., Goldstone, R., & Helbing, D. (2016).  Peer review and competition in the art exhibition game.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 8414-8419.

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.

Download PDF here

Download Supplemental File here

An in vivo study of self-regulated study sequencing in introductory psychology courses

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.

Download PDF of article here

The formation of social conventions in real-time environments

Hawkins, R. X. D., & Goldstone, R. L. (2016). The formation of social conventions in real-time environments.  PLoS One, 11(3): e0151670.

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.

Download PDF of article

Informal mechanisms in mathematical cognitive development: The case of arithmetic

Braithwaite, D. W., Goldstone, R. L., van der Maas, H. L . J., & Landy, D. H. (2016).  Informal mechanisms in mathematical cognitive development: The case of arithmetic.  Cognition, 149, 40-55.

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.

Download PDF of this paper

The Simple Advantage in Perceptual and Categorical Generalization

Thai, K-P., Son, J. Y., & Goldstone, R. L. (2016).  The Simple Advantage in Perceptual and Categorical Generalization.  Memory & Cognition, 44, 292-306.

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.

Download PDF of paper

The Cognitive Costs of Context: The Effects of Concreteness and Immersiveness in Instructional Examples

Day, S. B., Motz, B. A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2015).  The Cognitive Costs of Context: The Effects of Concreteness and Immersiveness in Instructional Examples.  Frontiers in Psychology, 6:1876.

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.

Download PDF of paper

Learning as Coordination

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.

Download PDF of this paper

Avatars and behavioral experiments: methods for controlled quantitative social behavioral research in virtual worlds

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.

Download a PDF of this paper

Effects of variation and prior knowledge on abstract concept learning

Braithwaite, D. W., & Goldstone, R. L., (2015). Effects of variation and prior knowledge on abstract concept learning. Cognition and Instruction, 33, 226-256.

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.

Download a PDF of the paper

 

Integration of social information by human groups

Granovskiy, B., Gold, J. M., Sumpter, D., & Goldstone, R. L. (2015). Integration of social information by human groups. Topics in Cognitive Science, 7, 469-493.

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.

Download PDF of paper

Effectiveness of learner-regulated study sequence: An in-vivo study in introductory psychology courses

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.

Download PDF of the paper here

Can you repeat that? The effect of item repetition on interleaved and blocked study

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.

Download a PDF of the paper here

Memory constraints affect statistical learning; statistical learning affects memory constraints

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.

Download a PDF of the paper here

Getting from here to there: Testing the effectiveness of an interactive mathematics intervention embedding perceptual 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.

Download a PDF of the paper here

A computational model for learning structured concepts from physical scenes

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.

Download a PDF of the paper here

It does belong together: Cross-modal correspondences influence cross-modal integration during perceptual learning

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.

 

Download a PDF of the paper here

Brain self-portraits: the cognitive science of visualizing neural structure and function

Goldstone, R. L., Börner, K., & Pestilli, F. (2015).  Brain self-portraits: the cognitive science of visualizing neural structure and function.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19, 462-474.

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.

Download a PDF of the paper here

What you learn is more than what you see: What can sequence effects tell us about inductive category learning?

Carvalho, P. F. & Goldstone, R. L. (2015). What you learn is more than what you see: What can sequence effects tell us about inductive category learning?. Frontiers in Psychology, 6 (505).

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.

The extent and arrangement of assistance during training impacts test performance

Tullis, J. G., Goldstone, R. L., & Hanson, A. J. (2015).  The extent and arrangement of assistance during training impacts test performance.  Journal of Motor Behavior, 5, 442-452.

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.

The benefits of interleaved and blocked study: Different tasks benefit from different schedules of study

Carvalho, P. F. & Goldstone, R. L. (2015). The benefits of interleaved and blocked study: Different tasks benefit from different schedules of study. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22(1), 241-248.

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.

Download the PDF file here.

Homo Socialis and Homo Sapiens

Goldstone, R. L. (2015).  Homo Socialis and Homo Sapiens.  Review of Behavioral Economics, 2, 77-87.

[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.

Download a PDF of this paper here

Fitting Perception in and to Cognition

Goldstone, R. L., de Leeuw, J. R., & Landy, D. H. (2015).  Fitting Perception in and to Cognition.  Cognition, 135, 24-29.

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.

Download PDF of paper here

Absolute Judgment of Musical Interval Width

Aruffo, C., Goldstone, R. L, & Earn, D. J. D. (2014).  Absolute Judgment of Musical Interval Width.  Music Perception, 32, 184-198.

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.

Download PDF of paper here

jsPsych: A JavaScript library for creating behavioral experiments in a Web browser

de Leeuw, J. R. (2014). jsPsych: A JavaScript library for creating behavioral experiments in a Web browser. Behavior Research Methods. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13428-014-0458-y

Online experiments are growing in popularity, and the increasing sophistication ofWeb technology hasmade it possible to run complex behavioral experiments online using only aWeb browser. Unlike with offline laboratory experiments, however, few tools exist to aid in the development of browser-based experiments. This makes the process of creating an experiment slow and challenging, particularly for researchers who lack a Web development background. This article introduces jsPsych, a JavaScript library for the development of Web-based experiments. jsPsych formalizes a way of describing experiments that is much simpler than writing the entire experiment from scratch. jsPsych then executes these descriptions automatically, handling the flow from one task to another. The jsPsych library is open source and designed to be expanded by the research community. The project is available online at www.jspsych.org.

Download a PDF version of the paper here.

Similarity-based ordering of instances for efficient concept learning

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.

Download a PDF version of this paper

Benefits of variation increase with preparation

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.

Download a PDF version of this article

Spatial organization and presentation mode in the representation of complex data

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.

Download a PDF version of this paper

Perceptual Learning

Goldstone, R. L., & Byrge, L. A. (2015).  Perceptual Learning.  The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Perception.  Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.  (pp. 1001-1016).

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.

Download PDF of chapter

Learning Visual Units After Brief Visual Experience in 10-month-old Infants

Needham, A., Goldstone, R. L., & Wiesen, S. (2014).  Learning Visual Units After Brief Visual Experience in 10-month-old Infants.  Cognitive Science, 38, 1507-1519.

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.

Download PDF file

Effects of interleaved and blocked study on delayed test of category learning generalization

Carvalho, P. F. & Goldstone, R. L. (2014). Effects of interleaved and blocked study on delayed test of category learning generalization. Frontiers in Psychology, 5 (936), 1-11.

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).

Download the PDF file here.

Putting category learning in order: category structure and temporal arrangement affect the benefit of interleaved over blocked study

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 & Cognition42(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.

Download PDF here

Concreteness fading in mathematic and science instruction: A systematic review

Fyfe, E. R., McNeil, N. M., Son, J. Y., & Goldstone, R. L. (2014).  Concreteness fading in mathematic and science instruction: A systematic review.  Educational Psychology Review, 26, 9-25.

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.

Download the PDF file here

Interdisciplinarity at the Journal and Specialty Level: The changing knowledge bases of the journal Cognitive Science

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.

Download this paper

See a movie of how the citation niche of Cognitive Science has changed over the years

Flexibility in data interpretation: Effects of representational format

Braithwaite, D. W., & Goldstone, R. L. (2013).  Flexibility in data interpretation: Effects of representational format.  Frontiers in Psychology, 4:980, 1-16. 

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.

Download PDF file

Social Learning Strategies in a Networked Group

Wisdom, T. N., Song, X., & Goldstone, R. L. (2013). Social Learning Strategies in a Networked Group.  Cognitive Science, 37, 1383-1425

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.

Download this paper

See a movie of Creature League experiment in action

Integrating formal and grounded representations in combinatorics learning

Braithwaite, D. W., & Goldstone, R. L. (2013).  Integrating formal and grounded representations in combinatorics learning.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 666-682.

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Cyclic game dynamics driven by iterated reasoning

Frey, S., & Goldstone, R. L. (2013). Cyclic game dynamics driven by iterated reasoning. PLoS One, 8(2): e56416. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056416

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.
Download PDF version of this paper

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.

Learning along with others

Goldstone, R. L., Wisdom, T. N., Roberts, M. E., & Frey, S. (2013). Learning along with others. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 58, 1-45.

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

The structure of integral dimensions: Contrasting topological and Cartesian representations

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.

Download this paper

 

Similarity-dissimilarity competition in disjunctive classification tasks

Mathy, F., Haladjian, H., Laurent, E., & Goldstone, R. L. (2013).  Similarity-dissimilarity competition in disjunctive classification tasks.  Frontiers in Psychology – Cognition, 4, #26, 1-14.

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.

Download this paper

Similarity

Goldstone, R. L., & Day, S. B. (2013).  Similarity. In H. Pashler (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Mind. SAGE Reference: Thousand Oaks, CA. (pp. 696-699)

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.
Download PDF version of this paper

When Seeing a Dog Activates the Bark: Multisensory Generalization and Distinctiveness Effects

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).

Download this paper

Benefits of Graphical and Symbolic Representations for Learning and Transfer of Statistical Concepts

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.

Download PDF of this paper

How to present exemplars of several categories? Interleave during active learning and block during passive learning

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.

Download PDF of this paper

Grouping by Similarity Helps Concept Learning

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.

Download PDF of this paper

An experiment on the cognitive complexity of code

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

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.

 Get PDF version of the paper

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Introduction to Special Issue “New Conceptualizations of Transfer of Learning.”

Goldstone, R. L., & Day, S. B. (2012).  Introduction to “New Conceptualizations of Transfer of Learning.”  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.

Download PDF version of this paper

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.

Download the paper

 

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.
Download PDF version of this paper

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.
Download PDF version of this paper

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.
Download PDF version of this paper

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 “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.
Download PDF version of this paper

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.
Download PDF version of this paper

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.
Download PDF version of this paper

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 “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.
Download PDF version of this paper

 

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’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).

Download a PDF version of this chapter

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 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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Improving Perception to Make Distant Connections Closer

Goldstone, R. L., Landy, D., & Brunel, L. (2011). Improving Perception to Make Distant Connections Closer. Frontiers in Perception Science, 2.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00385

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Innovation, imitation, and problem-solving in a networked group

Wisdom, T. N., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011).  Innovation, imitation, and problem-solving in a networked group.  Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, 15, 229-252.

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.

Download this paper

Going with the group in a competitive game of iterated reasoning

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Early perceptual learning

Goldstone, R. L., Son, J. Y, & Byrge, L. (2011).  Early perceptual learning.  Infancy16, 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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Adaptive group coordination and role differentiation

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Learning near-optimal search in a minimal explore/exploit task

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Connecting instances to promote children’s relational reasoning

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Processing emergent features in metaphor comprehension

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Computing representations for bound and unbound object matching

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.

View This Paper (HTML)

Transfer, And The Effects Of Context Outside Of The Training Task

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Analogical Transfer from a Simulated Physical System

Day, S., & Goldstone, R. L. (2011).  Analogical transfer from a simulated physical system.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition37,551-567.

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Distinguishing Levels of Grounding that Underlie Transfer of Learning

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Effects of grounded and formal representations on combinatorics learning

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Sequential Similarity and Comparison Effects in Category Learning

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

The Rumelhart Prize at 10

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

The effects of similarity and individual differences on comparison and transfer

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Functional structure and coordination failure in real-time group behavior

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Concept formation

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Domain-creating constraints

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Perceptual expertise: Bridging brain and behavior

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Comparison

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Categorical Perception

Goldstone, R. L., & Hendrickson, A. T. (2010). Categorical Perception. Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science1, 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.

Download PDF version of this paper

The education of perception

Goldstone, R. L., Landy, D. H., & Son, J. Y. (2010).  The education of perception. Topics in Cognitive Science2, 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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Schema

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

The effect of verbal interference and the internal structure of categories on perceptual discrimination

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”.

Download PDF version of this paper

Priming a central executive search process: exploration and exploitation in generalized cognitive search processes

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Proximity and precedence in arithmetic

Landy, D. H., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010).  Proximity and precedence in arithmetic. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology63, 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.

Download PDF version of this paper

When do words promote analogical transfer?

Son, J. Y., Doumas, L. A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010).  When do words promote analogical transfer?  The Journal of Problem Solving3, 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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Recognizing group cognition

Theiner, G, Allen, C., & Goldstone, R. L. (2010). Recognizing group cognition. Cognitive Systems Research11, 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).

Download PDF version of this paper

Social Learning and Cumulative Mutual Improvement in a Networked Group

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Transformational play as a curricular scaffold: Using videogames to support science education

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 Technology18, 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.

Download PDF version of this paper

How you named your child: Understanding the relationship between individual decision-making and collective outcomes

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 Science1, 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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Analogical transfer from interaction with a simulated physical system

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.

[See also  Day & Goldstone, (2011) Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory, and Cognition]

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Partial position transfer in categorical perception learning

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Collective behavior

Goldstone, R. L. & Gureckis, T. M. (2009).  Collective behavior. Topics in Cognitive Science1, 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?’’

Download PDF version of this paper

Perceptual unitization in part-whole judgments

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

How much of symbolic manipulation is just symbol pushing?

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Adaptive group coordination

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Sub-optimalities in group foraging and resource competition

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Fostering general transfer with specific simulations

Son, J. Y., & Goldstone, R. L. (2009).  Fostering General Transfer with Specific Simulations.Pragmatics and Cognition17, 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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Contextualization in perspective

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.

Download PDF version of this paper

Promoting transfer through complex systems principles

Goldstone, R. L., & Wilensky, U. (2008).  Promoting Transfer through Complex Systems Principles. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17, 465-516.

Understanding scientific phenomena in terms of complex systems principles is both scientifically and pedagogically important. Situations from different disciplines of science are often governed by the same principle, and so promoting knowledge transfer across disciplines makes valuable cross-fertilization and scientific unification possible. Although evidence for this kind of transfer has been historically controversial, experiments and observations of students suggest pedagogical methods to promote transfer of complex systems principles. One powerful strategy is for students to actively interpret the elements and interactions of perceptually grounded scenarios. Such interpretation can be facilitated through the presentation of cases alongside general principles, and by students exploring and constructing computational models of cases. The resulting knowledge can be both concretely grounded yet highly perspective-dependent and generalizeable. We discuss methods for coordinating computational and mental models of complex systems, the roles of idealization and concreteness in fostering understanding and generalization, and other complementary theoretical approaches to transfer.

Download PDF version of this paper

A well grounded education: The role of perception in science and mathematics

Goldstone, R. L., Landy, D., & Son, J. Y. (2008). A well grounded education: The role of perception in science and mathematics. In M. de Vega, A. Glenberg, & A. Graesser (Eds.) Symbols, embodiment, and meaning. Oxford Press (pp . 327-355).

One of the most important applications of grounded cognition theories is to science and mathematics education where the primary goal is to foster knowledge and skills that are widely transportable to new situations. This presents a challenge to those grounded cognition theories that tightly tie knowledge to the specifics of a single situation. In this chapter, we develop a theory learning that is grounded in perception and interaction, yet also supports transferable knowledge. A first series of studies explores the transfer of complex systems principles across two superficially dissimilar scenarios. The results indicate that students most effectively show transfer by applying previously learned perceptual and interpretational processes to new situations. A second series shows that even when students are solving formal algebra problems, they are greatly influenced by non-symbolic, perceptual grouping factors. We interpret both results as showing that high-level cognition that might seem to involve purely symbolic reasoning is actually driven by perceptual processes. The educational implication is that instruction in science and mathematics should involve not only teaching abstract rules and equations but also training students to perceive and interact with their world.

Download PDF version of this paper

Learning to see and conceive

Goldstone, R. L., Gerganov, A., Landy, D., & Roberts, M. E. (2008). Learning to see and conceive. In L. Tommasi, M. Peterson, & L. Nadel (Eds.) The New cognitive sciences (part of the Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology). Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press. (pp. 163-188).

Human concept learning depends upon perception. Our concept of Car is built out of perceptual features such as “engine,” “tire,” and “bumper.” However, recent research indicates that the dependency works both ways. We see bumpers and engines in part because we have acquired Car concepts and detected examples of them. Perception both influences and is influenced by the concepts that we learn. We have been exploring the psychological mechanisms by which concepts and perception mutually influence one another, and building computational models to show that the circle of influences is benign rather than vicious.

Download PDF version of this paper

Emergent processes in group behavior

Goldstone, R. L., Roberts, M. E., & Gureckis, T. M. (2008).  Emergent Processes in Group Behavior. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 10-15.

Just as networks of neurons create structured thoughts beyond the ken of any individual neuron, so people spontaneously organize themselves into groups to create emergent organizations that no individual may intend, comprehend, or even perceive. Recent technological advances have provided us with unprecedented opportunities for conducting controlled, laboratory experiments on human collective behavior. We describe two experimental paradigms where we attempt to build predictive bridges between the beliefs, goals, and cognitive capacities of individuals and group-level patterns, showing how the members of a group dynamically allocate themselves to resources, and how innovations are spread in a social network. Agent-based computational models have provided useful explanatory and predictive accounts. Together, the models and experiments point to tradeoffs between exploration and exploitation, compromises between individuals using their own innovations and innovations obtained from their peers, and the emergence of group-level organizations such as population waves, bandwagon effects, and spontaneous specialization.

Download PDF version of this paper

Collective search in concrete and abstract spaces

Goldstone, R. L., Roberts, M. E., Mason, W., & Gureckis, T. (2008). Collective search in concrete and abstract spaces. In T. Kugler, J. C. Smith, T. Connelly, and Y. Sun (Eds.) Decision modeling and behavior in complex and uncertain environments. New York: Springer Press. (pp. 277-308).

Our laboratory has been studying the emergence of collective search behavior from a complex systems perspective. We have developed an internet-based experimental platform that allows groups of people to interact with each other in real time on networked computers. The experiments implement virtual environments where participants can see the moment-to-moment actions of their peers and immediately respond to their environment. Agent-based computational models are used as accounts of the experimental results. We describe two paradigms for collective search – one in physical space and the other in an abstract problem space. The physical search situation concerns competitive foraging for resources by individuals inhabiting an environment consisting largely of other individuals foraging for the same resources. The abstract search concerns the dissemination of innovations in social networks. Across both scenarios, the group-level behavior that emerges reveals influences of exploration and exploitation, bandwagon effects, population waves, and compromises between individuals using their own information and information obtained from their peers.

Download PDF version of this paper

The effect of internal structure of categories on perception

Gureckis, T. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2008).  The effect of internal structure of categories on perception. Proceedings of the Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society,(pp. 1876-1881). Washington, D.C.: Cognitive Science Society.

A novel study is presented that explores the effect that learning internally organized categories has on the ability to subsequently discriminate category members. The results demonstrate the classic categorical perception effect whereby discrimination of stimuli that belong to different categories is improved following training, while the ability to discriminate stimuli belonging to the same category is reduced. We further report a new within-category perceptual effect whereby category members that share the same category label but fall into different sub-clusters within that category are better discriminated than items that share the same category and cluster. The results show that learners are sensitive to multiple sources structure beyond simply the labels provided during supervised training. A computational model is presented to account for the results whereby multiple levels of encoding (i.e., at the item-, cluster-, and category- level) may simultaneously contribute to perception.

Download PDF version of this paper

Search in external and internal spaces

Hills, T. T., Todd, P. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2008), Search in external and internal spaces.Psychological Science, 19, 676-682.

There is compelling molecular and behavioral evidence that goal-directed cognition is an evolutionary descendent of spatial-foraging behavior. Across animal species, similar dopaminergic processes modulate between exploratory and exploitative foraging behaviors and control attention. Consequently, we hypothesized that spatialforaging activity could prime attentional cognitive activity. We examined how searching in physical space influences subsequent search in abstract cognitive space by presenting participants with a spatial-foraging task followed by a repeated Scrabble task involving search for words that could be made from letter sets. Participants who searched through clumpier distributions in space behaved as if words were more densely clumped in the Scrabble task. This was not a function of arousal, but was consistent with predictions of optimal-foraging theory. Furthermore, individual differences in exploratory search were conserved across
the two types of tasks. Along with the biological evidence, our results support the idea that there are generalized cognitive search processes.

Download PDF version of this paper

Effect of rule choice in dynamic interactive spatial commons

Janssen, M. A., Goldstone, R. L., Menczer, F., & Ostrom, E. (2008).  Effect of rule choice in dynamic interactive spatial commons. International Journal of the Commons, 2, 288-312.

This paper uses laboratory experiments to examine the effect of an endogenous rule change from open access to private property as a potential solution to over-harvesting in commons dilemmas. A novel, spatial, real-time renewable resource environment was used to investigate whether participants were willing to invest in changing the rules from an open access situation to a private property system. We found that half of the participants invested in creating private property arrangements. Groups who had experienced private property in the second round of the experiment, made different decisions in the third round when open access was re-instituted in contrast to groups who experienced three rounds of open access. At the group level, earnings increased in Round 3, but this was at a cost of more inequality. No significant differences in outcomes occurred between experiments where rules were imposed by the experimental design or chosen by participants.

Download PDF version of this paper

How the appearance of an operator affects its formal precedence

Landy, D. H., Jones, M. N., & Goldstone, R. L. (2008).  How the appearance of an operator affects its formal precedence. Proceedings of the Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, , (pp. 2109-2114). Washington, D.C.: Cognitive Science Society

Two experiments test predictions of a visual process-driven model of multi-term arithmetic computation. The visual process model predicts that attention should be drawn toward multiplication signs more readily than toward plus signs, and that narrow spaces should draw gaze comparably to multiplication signs. Although both of these predictions are verified by behavioral response measures and eye-tracking, the visual process model cannot account for patterns of early looking. The results suggest that people strategically deploy visual computation strategies.

Download PDF version of this paper

Propagation of innovations in networked groups

Mason, W. A., Jones, A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2008). Propagation of innovations in networked groups. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137, 422-433.

A novel paradigm was developed to study the behavior of groups of networked people searching a problem space. We examined how different network structures affect the propagation of information in laboratory-created groups. Participants made numerical guesses and received scores that were also made available to their neighbors in the network. The networks were compared on speed of discovery and convergence on the optimal solution. One experiment showed that individuals within a group tend to converge on similar solutions even when there is an equally valid alternative solution. Two additional studies demonstrated that the optimal network structure depends on the problem space being explored, with networks that incorporate spatially-based cliques having an advantage for problems that benefit from broad exploration, and networks with greater long-range connectivity having an advantage for problems requiring less exploration.

Download PDF version of this paper

Implicity and generalization: Short-cutting abstraction in children’s object categorizations

Son, J. Y., Smith, L. B., & Goldstone, R. L. (2008).  implicity and generalization: Short-cutting abstraction in children’s object categorizations. Cognition, 108, 626-638.

Development in any domain is often characterized by increasingly abstract representations. Recent evidence in the domain of shape recognition provides one example; between 18 and 24 months children appear to build increasingly abstract representations of object shape [Smith, L. B. (2003). Learning to recognize objects. Psychological Science, 14, 244– 250]. Abstraction is in part simplification because it requires the removal of irrelevant information. At the same time, part of generalization is ignoring irrelevant differences. The resulting prediction is this: simplification may enable generalization. Four experiments asked whether simple training instances could shortcut the process of abstraction and directly promote appropriate generalization. Toddlers were taught novel object categories with either simple or complex training exemplars. We found that children who learned with simple objects were able to generalize according to shape similarity, typically relevant for early object categories, better than those who learned with complex objects. Abstraction is the product of learning; using simplified – already abstracted instances – can short-cut that learning, leading to robust generalization.

Download PDF version of this paper

The effects of peer information on problem-solving in a networked group

Wisdom, T. N., Song, X., & Goldstone, R. L. (2008).  The effects of peer information on problem-solving in a networked group. Proceedings of the Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, , (pp. 583-588). Washington, D.C.: Cognitive Science Society

In this experiment, we implemented a problem-solving task in which groups of participants simultaneously play a simple puzzle game, with score feedback provided after each of 24 rounds. Each participant in a group is allowed to view and imitate the guesses of others during the game. Results show that when the utility of others’ innovations is unambiguous, individuals base their own solutions on personal innovation and productively imitate other players’ innovations early on, and that this tendency to imitate is proportional to the relative amount of information available from others. Average trends of innovation and imitation decreased across rounds as player guesses stabilized and scores increased. Mean scores and imitation increased with group size, while individual innovation decreased. Results are consistent with previously studied social learning strategies in several taxa.

Download PDF version of this paper

Introduction to a special issue on the Development of Categorization

Ionescu, T., & Goldstone, R. L. (2007). Introduction to a special issue on the Development of Categorization, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior, 11, 629-633.

Categorization is indubitably an important cognitive process for humans (as well as other animals, Murai, Kosugi, Tomonaga, Tanaka, Matsuzawa, & Itakura, 2005), one that we constantly engage in to adapt to a very rich environment. We have a powerful impulse to interpret our world. This act of interpretation is fundamentally an act of categorization. We can go back in history at least to Aristotle (see his work on Categories, 350 B.C.E.) and along this way we find discussions of categories often appearing in philosophers’ books. The issue of categorization is also an historically early topic in psychology (see Hull’s experiment in 1920), and a considerable amount of research has been continuously dedicated to it up until the present. One could ask then: Why a special issue on categorization at this point in time? Although the general topic of categorization is venerable, relatively recently we cognitive scientists have changed our view about categorization. We have moved from considering taxonomies (or categories based in logic) as the “real,” mature kind of categorization to understanding that there are multiple kinds of similarities that are taken into account when one groups items (Barsalou, 1993, 2003; Medin, Goldstone, & Gentner, 1993; Ross & Murphy, 1999).

Download PDF version of this paper

Formal notations are diagrams: Evidence from a production task

Landy, D., & Goldstone, R. L. (2007).  Formal notations are diagrams: Evidence from a production task. Memory & Cognition, 35, 2033-2040

Although a general sense of the magnitude, quantity, or numerosity of objects is common both in untrained people and in animals, the abilities to deal exactly with large quantities and to reason precisely in complex but well-specified situations—to behave formally, that is—are skills unique to people trained in symbolic notations. These symbolic notations employ typically complex, hierarchically embedded structures, which all extant analyses assume are constructed by concatenative, rule-based processes. The primary goal of this article is to establish, using behavioral measures on naturalistic tasks, that the some of the same cognitive resources involved in representing spatial relations and proximities are also involved in representing symbolic notations: in short, formal notations are a kind of diagram. We examine self-generated productions in the domains of handwritten arithmetic expressions and typewritten statements in a formal logic. In both tasks, we find substantial evidence for spatial representational schemes even in these highly symbolic domains.

Download PDF version of this paper

Finding analogies within systems: Constraints on unsegmented matching

Baldwin D. & Goldstone R.L. (2007). Finding analogies within systems: Constraints on unsegmented matching. Proceedings of the Workshop on Analogies: Integrating Multiple Cognitive Abilities (AnICA07). Nashville, Tennessee.

The complex structure and organization of knowledge in the human mind is one of the key facets of thought. One of the fundamental cognitive processes that oper- ates over that structure is analogy. A typical compu- tational model of analogy might juxtapose a source do- main and a target domain, such as the solar system and the Bohr-Rutherford (BR) model of an atom (Gentner, 1983). The goal is to find a correspondence mapping between these two domains. Determining a mapping between the source and target domains of a non-trivial size would be intractable without a set of constraints to restrict the set of correspondences that are considered by a human reasoner. Moreover, the mere presence of domains serve as a constraint on mapping. In this paper, we study an alternative problem called unsegmented mapping – correspondence without specification of domains. We show a series of three formal constraints that allow for analogical-like mappings without explicit segmentation. The result, correspondence is possible without domains, has implications for models of analogical reasoning as well as schema induction and inference.

Download PDF version of this paper

Spatial constraints on visual statistical learning of multi-element displays

Conway, C., Goldstone, R. L., & Christiansen, M. (2007). Spatial constraints on visual statistical learning of multi-element displays. Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 185-190). Nashville, TN: Cognitive Science Society.

Visual statistical learning allows observers to extract high-level structure from visual scenes (Fiser & Aslin, 2001). Previous work has explored the types of statistical computations afforded but has not addressed to what extent learning results in unbound versus spatially bound representations of element cooccurrences. We explored these two possibilities using an unsupervised learning task with adult participants who observed complex multi-element scenes embedded with consistently paired elements. If learning is mediated by unconstrained associative learning mechanisms, then learning the element pairings may depend only on the co-occurrence of the elements in the scenes, without regard to their specific spatial arrangements. If learning is perceptually constrained, cooccurring elements ought to form perceptual units specific to their observed spatial arrangements. Results showed that participants learned the statistical structure of element cooccurrences in a spatial-specific manner, showing that visual statistical learning is perceptually constrained by spatial grouping principles.

Download PDF version of this paper

Simulating conceptually-guided perceptual learning

Gerganov, A., Grinberg, M., Quinn, P. C., & Goldstone, R. L. (2007). Simulating conceptually-guided perceptual learning. Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 287-292). Nashville, TN: Cognitive Science Society.

Visual statistical learning allows observers to extract high-level structure from visual scenes (Fiser & Aslin, 2001). Previous work has explored the types of statistical computations afforded but has not addressed to what extent learning results in unbound versus spatially bound representations of element cooccurrences. We explored these two possibilities using an unsupervised learning task with adult participants who observed complex multi-element scenes embedded with consistently paired elements. If learning is mediated by unconstrained associative learning mechanisms, then learning the element pairings may depend only on the co-occurrence of the elements in the scenes, without regard to their specific spatial arrangements. If learning is perceptually constrained, cooccurring elements ought to form perceptual units specific to their observed spatial arrangements. Results showed that participants learned the statistical structure of element cooccurrences in a spatial-specific manner, showing that visual statistical learning is perceptually constrained by spatial grouping principles.

Download PDF version of this paper

Priming and conservation between spatial and cognitive search

Hills, T., Todd, P., & Goldstone, R. L. (2007). Priming and conservation between spatial and cognitive search. Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (359-364). Nashville, TN: Cognitive Science Society.

Visual statistical learning allows observers to extract high-level structure from visual scenes (Fiser & Aslin, 2001). Previous work has explored the types of statistical computations afforded but has not addressed to what extent learning results in unbound versus spatially bound representations of element cooccurrences. We explored these two possibilities using an unsupervised learning task with adult participants who observed complex multi-element scenes embedded with consistently paired elements. If learning is mediated by unconstrained associative learning mechanisms, then learning the element pairings may depend only on the co-occurrence of the elements in the scenes, without regard to their specific spatial arrangements. If learning is perceptually constrained, cooccurring elements ought to form perceptual units specific to their observed spatial arrangements. Results showed that participants learned the statistical structure of element cooccurrences in a spatial-specific manner, showing that visual statistical learning is perceptually constrained by spatial grouping principles.

Download PDF version of this paper

How abstract is symbolic thought?

Landy, D. & Goldstone, R. L. (2007). How abstract is symbolic thought? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition33, 720-733.

In 4 experiments, the authors explored the role of visual layout in rule-based syntactic judgments. Participants judged the validity of a set of algebraic equations that tested their ability to apply the order of operations. In each experiment, a nonmathematical grouping pressure was manipulated to support or interfere with the mathematical convention. Despite the formal irrelevance of these grouping manipulations, accuracy in all experiments was highest when the nonmathematical pressure supported the mathematical grouping. The increase was significantly greater when the correct judgment depended on the order of operator precedence. The result that visual perception impacts rule application in mathematics has broad implications for relational reasoning in general. The authors conclude that formally symbolic reasoning is more visual than is usually proposed.

Download PDF version of this paper

The alignment of ordering and space in arithmetic computation

Landy, D. & Goldstone, R. L. (2007). The alignment of ordering and space in arithmetic computation. Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 437-442). Nashville, TN: Cognitive Science Society.

In 4 experiments, the authors explored the role of visual layout in rule-based syntactic judgments. Participants judged the validity of a set of algebraic equations that tested their ability to apply the order of operations. In each experiment, a nonmathematical grouping pressure was manipulated to support or interfere with the mathematical convention. Despite the formal irrelevance of these grouping manipulations, accuracy in all experiments was highest when the nonmathematical pressure supported the mathematical grouping. The increase was significantly greater when the correct judgment depended on the order of operator precedence. The result that visual perception impacts rule application in mathematics has broad implications for relational reasoning in general. The authors conclude that formally symbolic reasoning is more visual than is usually proposed.

Download PDF version of this paper

How space guides interpretation of a novel mathematical system

Landy, D. & Goldstone, R. L. (2007). How space guides interpretation of a novel mathematical system. Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.(pp. 431-436). Nashville, TN: Cognitive Science Society.

This paper investigates how people build interpretations of compound expressions in a novel formal system. In traditional arithmetic, interpretations are guided by an order of precedence convention (times and division precede addition and subtraction). This order is supported by alignment with the order of precedence. In the experiment described here, participants learned computation tables of two simple novel operators, and then were asked to discover a precedence order between them. The operators were presented with a physical spacing convention that either aligned with the precedence order, opposed it, or randomly opposed or aligned with the precedence order. Participants were more likely to reach a criterion of successful performance when the order of operations aligned with the precedence order, and did so more quickly than either other group. The results indicate that reasoners integrate salient perceptual cues with formal knowledge following particular conventions, even on novel systems.

Download PDF version of this paper

Grounding symbol structures in space: Formal notations as diagrams

Landy, D. & Goldstone, R. L. (2007). Grounding symbol structures in space: Formal notations as diagrams. Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.(pp. 425-430). Nashville, TN: Cognitive Science Society.

[Winner of the 2007 Marr Prize for Best Student Paper at the 2007 Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society]

Although a general sense of the magnitude, quantity, or numerosity is common both in untrained people and animals, the abilities to deal exactly with large quantities and to reason precisely in complex but well-specified situations—to behave formally, that is—are skills unique to people trained in symbolic notations. These symbolic notations employ typically complex, hierarchically embedded structures, which all extant analyses assume are the product of concatenative, rule-based processes. The primary goal of this article is to establish, using behavioral measures on naturalistic tasks, that the some of the same cognitive resources involved in representing spatial relations and proximities are also involved in representing symbolic notations. In short, formal notations are used as a kind of diagram. We examine selfgenerated productions in the domains of handwritten arithmetic expressions and typewritten statements in a formal logic. In both tasks, we find substantial evidence for spatial processes even in these highly symbolic domains.

Download PDF version of this paper

Re-representation using labels: Comparison or replacement

Son, J. Y., Smith, L. B., & Goldstone, R. L. (2007). Re-representation using labels: Comparison or replacement. Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 677-682). Nashville, TN: Cognitive Science Society.

The practice of labeling seems to allow children to make difficult relational similarity matches. Two experiments explore the cognitive processes of comparison and replacement that have been implicated in the beneficial effects of linguistic labeling. Since linguistic labels may be implicated in a number of these processes, our experiments used traditional non-linguistic labels (post-its) to promote either the process of comparison or replacement. Results from two relational matching tasks suggest that comparison is more influential than replacement.

Download PDF version of this paper

Words that evoke schemas: The need for optimal vagueness

Son, J. Y., Smith, L. B., & Goldstone, R. L. (2007). Words that evoke schemas: The need for optimal vagueness. Proceedings of the Workshop on Analogies: Integrating Multiple Cognitive Abilities (AnICA07). Nashville, Tennesse.

Although young children typically have trouble reasoning relationally, they are aided by the presence of relational words (e.g., Gentner & Rattermann, 1991) and can reason well about commonly experienced event structures (e.g., Fivush, 1984). Two experiments examine how schema-evoking words help preschool-aged children generalize relational patterns. Experiment 1 shows the superiority of schema-evoking words and Experiment 2 further reveals that these words must be applied to vaguely related events in order to draw attention to structure.

Download PDF version of this paper

The import and export of Cognitive Science

Goldstone, R. L., & Leydesdorff, L. (2006). The import and export of Cognitive Science.Cognitive Science, 30, 983-993.

From its inception, a large part of the motivation for Cognitive Science has been the need for an interdisciplinary journal for the study of minds and intelligent systems. In the inaugural editorial for the journal, Allan Collins (1977) wrote “Current journals are fragmented along old disciplinary lines, so there is no common place for workers who approach these problems from different disciplines to talk to each other” (p. 1). The interdisciplinarity of the journal has served a valuable cross-fertilization function for those who read the journal to discover articles written for and by practitioners across a wide range of fields. The challenges of building and understanding intelligent systems are sufficiently large that they will most likely require the skills of psychologists, computer scientists, philosophers, educators, neuroscientists, and linguists collaborating and coordinating their efforts.

Download PDF version of this paper
Visit the journal annex for supplemental figures

Dynamic-persistence of cooperation in public good games when group size is dynamic

Janssen, M. A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2006). Dynamic-persistence of cooperation in public good games when group size is dynamic. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 234, 134-142.

The evolution of cooperation is possible with a simple model of a population of agents that can move between groups. The agents play public good games within their group. The relative fitness of individuals within the whole population affects their number of offspring. Groups of cooperators evolve but over time are invaded by defectors which eventually results in the group’s extinction. However, for small levels of migration and mutation, high levels of cooperation evolve at the population level. Thus, evolution of cooperation based on individual fitness without kin selection, indirect or direct reciprocity is possible. We provide an analysis of the parameters that affect cooperation, and describe the dynamics and distribution of population sizes over time.

Download PDF version of this paper

Thinking in groups

Gureckis, T. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2006). Thinking in groups. Pragmatics and Cognition14, 293-311

Is cognition an exclusive property of the individual or can groups have a mind of their own? We explore this question from the perspective of complex adaptive systems. One of the principle insights from this line of work is that rules that govern behavior at one level of analysis (the individual) can cause qualitatively different behavior at higher levels (the group). We review a number of behavioral studies from our lab that demonstrate how groups of people interacting in real-time can self-organize into adaptive, problem-solving group structures. A number of principles are derived concerning the critical features of such “distributed” information processing systems. We suggest that while cognitive science has traditionally focused on the individual, cognitive processes may manifest at many levels including the emergent group-level behavior that results from the interaction of multiple agents and their environment.

Download PDF version of this paper

EPICURE: Spatial and Knowledge Limitations in Group Foraging

Roberts, M. E., & Goldstone, R. L. (2006). EPICURE: Spatial and Knowledge Limitations in Group Foraging. Adaptive Behavior14, 291-313.

We propose an agent-based model of group foraging, EPICURE, for patchily distributed resources. Each agent makes probabilistic movement decisions in a gridworld through a linear combination of current perceptual information and a reinforcement history. EPICURE captures the empirical results from several foraging conditions in Goldstone and Ashpole (2004) and Goldstone, Ashpole, and Roberts (2005), and it leads to a re-evaluation of findings from those papers. In particular, human foragers show contingent usage of information, initially using social information to discover resource pools before private sampling information has been established. We describe a series of simulations that test the sources of resource undermatching often found in group foraging experiments. After testing the effects of foragers’ starting locations, travel costs, the number of foragers, and the size of uniform food distributions, we discuss a novel hypothesis for undermatching. Spatial constraints lead to inadequate individual and group information sampling and cause group undermatching. The foraging group size, food rate, spatial distribution of food, and resulting forager reinforcement histories interact to produce undermatching, and occasionally overmatching, to resources.

Download PDF version of this paper
Use the simulation described in this paper

The interplay between perceptual organization and categorization in the representation of complex visual patterns by young infants

Quinn, P. C., Schyns, P. G., & Goldstone, R. L. (2006). The interplay between perceptual organization and categorization in the representation of complex visual patterns by young infants.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology95, 116-127.

The relation between perceptual organization and categorization processes in 3- and 4-month-olds was explored. The question was whether an invariant part abstracted during category learning could interfere with Gestalt organizational processes. A 2003 study by Quinn and Schyns had reported that an initial category familiarization experience in which infants were presented with visual patterns consisting of a pacman shape and a complex polygon could interfere with infants’ subsequent good continuationbased parsing of a circle from visual patterns consisting of a circle and a complex polygon. However, an alternative noninterference explanation for the results was possible because the pacman had been presented with greater frequency and duration than had the circle. The current study repeated Quinn and Schyns’s procedure but provided an equivalent number of familiarization trials and duration of study time for the infants to process the pacman during initial familiarization and the circle during subsequent familiarization. The results replicated the previous Wndings of Quinn and Schyns. The data are consistent with the interference account and suggest that a cognitive system of adaptable feature creation can take precedence over organizational principles with which a perceptual system comes preequipped.

Download PDF version of this paper

Asymmetries in categorization, perceptual discrimination, and visual search for reference and non-reference exemplars

Corneille, O., Goldstone, R. L., Queller, S., & Potter, T. (2006). Asymmetries in categorization, perceptual discrimination, and visual search for reference and non-reference exemplars. Memory & Cognition ,34, 556-567.

Two studies examined the representation, treatment, and attention, devoted to the members of reference (i.e., Club members) and non-reference (i.e., Not-Club members) categories. Consistent with prior work on category interrelatedness (e.g. Goldstone, 1996; Goldstone, Steyvers, & Rogosky, 2003), the findings reveal the existence of asymmetric representations for reference and non-reference categories which, however, decreased as expertise and familiarity with the categories increased (Experiment 1 and Experiment 2). Participants also more readily judged two reference than two non-reference exemplars as being the same (Experiment 1), and were better at detecting reference than non-reference exemplars in a set of novel, category-unspecified,exemplars (Experiment 2). These findings provide evidence for the existence of a feature asymmetry in the representation and treatment of exemplars from reference and non-reference categories. Membership in a reference category acts as a salient feature, thereby increasing the perceived similarity and detection of faces that belong in the reference, compared to nonreference, category.

Download PDF version of this paper

The complex systems see-change in education

Goldstone, R. L. (2006). The Complex systems see-change in education. The Journal of Learning Sciences, 15, 35-43.

The day when scientists have time to read broadly across chemistry, biology, physics and social sciences is long gone. Journals, conferences, and academic departmental structures are becoming increasingly specialized and myopic. As Peter Csermely (1999), one of the organizers of the International Forum of Young Scientists expresses it, “There is only a limited effort to achieve the appropriate balance between the discovery of new facts and finding their appropriate place and importance in the framework of science. Science is not self-integrating, and there are fewer and fewer people taking responsibility for ‘net-making” (p. 1621). One possible response to this fragmentation of science is to simply view it as inevitable. Horgan (1996) argues that the age of fundamental scientific theorizing and discoveries has passed, and that all that is left to be done is refining the details of theories already laid down by the likes of Einstein, Darwin, and Newton. Complex systems researchers, and learning scientists more generally, offer an alternative perspective, choosing to reverse the trend toward increasing specialization.

Download PDF version of this paper