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The Impact of Blocked vs. Distributed Category Learning on Subsequent Generalization

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It is a well-established finding in memory research that spacing or distributing information, as opposed to blocking all the information together, results in an enhanced memory of the learned material. Recently, researchers have decided to investigate if this spacing effect

It is a well-established finding in memory research that spacing or distributing information, as opposed to blocking all the information together, results in an enhanced memory of the learned material. Recently, researchers have decided to investigate if this spacing effect is also beneficial in category learning. In a set of experiments, Carvalho & Goldstone (2013), demonstrated that a blocked presentation showed an advantage during learning, but that ultimately, the distributed presentation yielded better performance during a post-learning transfer test. However, we have identified a major methodological issue in this study that we believe contaminates the results in a way that leads to an inflation and misrepresentation of learning levels. The present study aimed to correct this issue and re-examine whether a blocked or distributed presentation enhances the learning and subsequent generalization of categories. We also introduced two shaping variables, category size and distortion level at transfer, in addition to the mode of presentation (blocked versus distributed). Results showed no significant differences of mode of presentation at either the learning or transfer phases, thus supporting our concern about the previous study. Additional findings showed benefits in learning categories with a greater category size, as well as higher classification accuracy of novel stimuli at lower-distortion levels.

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2017-12

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Optimizing Biofeedback and Learning in an EEG-Based Brain-Computer Interface

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Brain-computer interface technology establishes communication between the brain and a computer, allowing users to control devices, machines, or virtual objects using their thoughts. This study investigates optimal conditions to facilitate learning to operate this interface. It compares two biofeedback methods,

Brain-computer interface technology establishes communication between the brain and a computer, allowing users to control devices, machines, or virtual objects using their thoughts. This study investigates optimal conditions to facilitate learning to operate this interface. It compares two biofeedback methods, which dictate the relationship between brain activity and the movement of a virtual ball in a target-hitting task. Preliminary results indicate that a method in which the position of the virtual object directly relates to the amplitude of brain signals is most conducive to success. In addition, this research explores learning in the context of neural signals during training with a BCI task. Specifically, it investigates whether subjects can adapt to parameters of the interface without guidance. This experiment prompts subjects to modulate brain signals spectrally, spatially, and temporally, as well differentially to discriminate between two different targets. However, subjects are not given knowledge regarding these desired changes, nor are they given instruction on how to move the virtual ball. Preliminary analysis of signal trends suggests that some successful participants are able to adapt brain wave activity in certain pre-specified locations and frequency bands over time in order to achieve control. Future studies will further explore these phenomena, and future BCI projects will be advised by these methods, which will give insight into the creation of more intuitive and reliable BCI technology.

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2014-05

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The effect of partial exemplar experience on ill-defined, multi-modal categories

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of partial exemplar experience on category formation and use. Participants had either complete or limited access to the three dimensions that defined categories by dimensions within different modalities. The concept

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of partial exemplar experience on category formation and use. Participants had either complete or limited access to the three dimensions that defined categories by dimensions within different modalities. The concept of "crucial dimension" was introduced and the role it plays in category definition was explained. It was hypothesized that the effects of partial experience are not explained by a shifting of attention between dimensions (Taylor & Ross, 2009) but rather by an increased reliance on prototypical values used to fill in missing information during incomplete experiences. Results indicated that participants (1) do not fill in missing information with prototypical values, (2) integrate information less efficiently between different modalities than within a single modality, and (3) have difficulty learning only when partial experience prevents access to diagnostic information.

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Date Created
2011

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Grounding concepts: physical interaction can provide minor benefit to category learning

Description

Categories are often defined by rules regarding their features. These rules may be intensely complex yet, despite the complexity of these rules, we are often able to learn them with sufficient practice. A possible explanation for how we arrive at

Categories are often defined by rules regarding their features. These rules may be intensely complex yet, despite the complexity of these rules, we are often able to learn them with sufficient practice. A possible explanation for how we arrive at consistent category judgments despite these difficulties would be that we may define these complex categories such as chairs, tables, or stairs by understanding the simpler rules defined by potential interactions with these objects. This concept, called grounding, allows for the learning and transfer of complex categorization rules if said rules are capable of being expressed in a more simple fashion by virtue of meaningful physical interactions. The present experiment tested this hypothesis by having participants engage in either a Rule Based (RB) or Information Integration (II) categorization task with instructions to engage with the stimuli in either a non-interactive or interactive fashion. If participants were capable of grounding the categories, which were defined in the II task with a complex visual rule, to a simpler interactive rule, then participants with interactive instructions should outperform participants with non-interactive instructions. Results indicated that physical interaction with stimuli had a marginally beneficial effect on category learning, but this effect seemed most prevalent in participants were engaged in an II task.

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2014