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.

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OPTIMAL Demonstrations

OPTIMAL: On-line Preparation Tools for Instructional Materials and Assessment of Learning

These demonstrations show some of the capabilities of OPTIMAL.  The purpose of OPTIMAL is to allow instructors to develop interactive, on-line course materials, compare different methods of instruction in their courses using these materials, and deploy these different methods to their students using proper experimental control, counter-balancing, and randomization.  The crucial architectural underbelly of OPTIMAL is the jsPsych library for conducting on-line experiments in Javascript, developed by Joshua de Leeuw.  The open source software repository for jsPsych is available here and here is the Behavioral Research Method paper describing it.


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.

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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.

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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.

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New study shows that copying helps the one who imitates, AND the one who is imitated

Our “Creature League” study has been mentioned at Science Daily, ScienceNewslineIU’s News Room, Medical Xpress, EurekAlert!, and Science Codex.  Here’s an audio description of the work, courtesy of Academic Minute.  Participants in the group behavior experiment of Wisdom, Song, and Goldstone (2013) tried to assemble teams of Pokemon-like creatures that scored well. Each creature was associated with a score for itself, but some pairs of creatures also produced positive or negative scores. Because of these interactions between creatures, the problem of assembling high-scoring teams posed a difficult search problem for participants. Participants could assemble their teams by 1) using their previous teams (status quo), 2) taking creatures from their historically best team (retrieval), 3) dragging untested creatures from the league of creatures (innovating), or 4) dragging individual creatures or entire teams from other participants’ solutions (imitating).

Some of the interesting results from this study were:

1)    Participants tend to do BETTER when surrounded by imitators.  One of the primary mechanisms for this is that when a person comes up with a good solution, their peers copy the solution, and sometime improve upon it.  The person who was originally imitated can then benefit from these subsequent solutions (cliff swallows show a similar collective dynamic, with birds benefitting by being imitated while foraging).  Imitation also acts as a cultural memory for what has worked well in the past.  If an innovator’s solution to a problem is preserved by imitators, then the innovator does not have to remember their solution themselves.

2)  As problem increased in difficulty, solutions were less diverse, and exploration was less prevalent.

3) Participants were more likely to imitate popular choices. above and beyond what would be expected from random copying of solution elements.

4)  Participants are more likely to imitate a solution that is increasing in popularity among peers.

5) Participants are more likely to imitate solutions that are similar to their current solutions.  This helps avoid hybrids/cross-breeds that don’t score well.

6) Participants begin a game by imitating and innovating relatively often, and end by more conservatively sticking to their existing solution.  The best scoring strategy was to stick close to an existing solution, and innovating was worst.

7)  At a group level, diversity of solutions decreased over rounds of a game.  Bigger groups did better, but bigger groups also showed less diversity.

See a movie clip of the game in action


Play the game yourself

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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