Psychological Review

  • Concepts, control, and context: A connectionist account of normal and disordered semantic cognition. 20180507
    Semantic cognition requires conceptual representations shaped by verbal and nonverbal experience and executive control processes that regulate activation of knowledge to meet current situational demands. A complete model must also account for the representation of concrete and abstract words, of taxonomic and associative relationships, and for the role of context in shaping meaning. We present the first major attempt to assimilate all of these elements within a unified, implemented computational framework. Our model combines a hub-and-spoke architecture with a buffer that allows its state to be influenced by prior context. This hybrid structure integrates the view, from cognitive neuroscience, that concepts are grounded in sensory-motor representation with the view, from computational linguistics, that knowledge is shaped by patterns of lexical co-occurrence. The model successfully codes knowledge for abstract and concrete words, associative and taxonomic relationships, and the multiple meanings of homonyms, within a single representational space. Knowledge of abstract words is acquired through (a) their patterns of co-occurrence with other words and (b) acquired embodiment, whereby they become indirectly associated with the perceptual features of co-occurring concrete words. The model accounts for executive influences on semantics by including a controlled retrieval mechanism that provides top-down input to amplify weak semantic relationships. The representational and control elements of the model can be damaged independently, and the consequences of such damage closely replicate effects seen in neuropsychological patients with loss of semantic representation versus control processes. Thus, the model provides a wide-ranging and neurally plausible account of normal and impaired semantic cognition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Competing theories of multialternative, multiattribute preferential choice. 20171221
    In accounting for phenomena present in preferential choice experiments, modern models assume a wide array of different mechanisms such as lateral inhibition, leakage, loss aversion, and saliency. These mechanisms create interesting predictions for the dynamics of the deliberation process as well as the aggregate behavior of preferential choice in a variety of contexts. However, the models that embody these different mechanisms are rarely subjected to rigorous quantitative tests of suitability by way of model fitting and evaluation. Recently, complex, stochastic models have been cast aside in favor of simpler approximations, which may or may not capture the data as well. In this article, we use a recently developed method to fit the four extant models of context effects to data from two experiments: one involving consumer goods stimuli, and another involving perceptual stimuli. Our third study investigates the relative merits of the mechanisms currently assumed by the extant models of context effects by testing every possible configuration of mechanism within one overarching model. Across all tasks, our results emphasize the importance of several mechanisms such as lateral inhibition, loss aversion, and pairwise attribute differences, as these mechanisms contribute positively to model performance. Together, our results highlight the notion that mathematical tractability, while certainly a convenient feature of any model, should neither be the primary impetus for model development nor the promoting or demotion of specific model mechanisms. Instead, model fit, balanced with model complexity, should be the greatest burden to bear for any theoretical account of empirical phenomena. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • A sampling model of social judgment. 20180507
    Studies of social judgments have demonstrated a number of diverse phenomena that were so far difficult to explain within a single theoretical framework. Prominent examples are false consensus and false uniqueness, as well as self-enhancement and self-depreciation. Here we show that these seemingly complex phenomena can be a product of an interplay between basic cognitive processes and the structure of social and task environments. We propose and test a new process model of social judgment, the social sampling model (SSM), which provides a parsimonious quantitative account of different types of social judgments. In the SSM, judgments about characteristics of broader social environments are based on sampling of social instances from memory, where instances receive activation if they belong to a target reference class and have a particular characteristic. These sampling processes interact with the properties of social and task environments, including homophily, shapes of frequency distributions, and question formats. For example, in line with the model’s predictions we found that whether false consensus or false uniqueness will occur depends on the level of homophily in people’s social circles and on the way questions are asked. The model also explains some previously unaccounted-for patterns of self-enhancement and self-depreciation. People seem to be well informed about many characteristics of their immediate social circles, which in turn influence how they evaluate broader social environments and their position within them. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • The capacity of trans-saccadic memory in visual search. 20180507
    Maintaining a continuous, stable perception of the visual world relies on the ability to integrate information from previous fixations with the current one. An essential component of this integration is trans-saccadic memory (TSM), memory for information across saccades. TSM capacity may play a limiting role in tasks requiring efficient trans-saccadic integration, such as multiple-fixation visual search tasks. We estimated TSM capacity and investigated its relationship to visual short-term memory (VSTM) using two visual search tasks, one in which participants maintained fixation while saccades were simulated and another where participants made a sequence of actual saccades. We derived a memory-limited ideal observer model to estimate lower-bounds on memory capacities from human search performance. Analysis of the single-fixation search task resulted in capacity estimates (4–8 bits) consistent with those reported for traditional VSTM tasks. However, analysis of the multiple-fixation search task resulted in capacity estimates (15–32 bits) significantly larger than those measured for VSTM. Our results suggest that TSM plays an important role in visual search tasks, that the effective capacity of TSM is greater than or equal to that of VSTM, and that the TSM capacity of human observers significantly limits performance in multiple-fixation visual search tasks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Do infants and nonhuman animals attribute mental states? 20180507
    Among psychologists, it is widely thought that infants well under age 3, monkeys, apes, birds, and dogs have been shown to have rudimentary capacities for representing and attributing mental states or relations. I believe this view to be mistaken. It rests on overinterpreting experiments. It also often rests on assuming that one must choose between taking these individuals to be mentalists and taking them to be behaviorists. This assumption underestimates a powerful nonmentalistic, nonbehavioristic explanatory scheme that centers on attributing action with targets and on causation of action by interlocking, internal conative, and sensory states. Neither action with targets, nor conative states, nor sensing entails mentality. The scheme can attribute conative states and relations (to targets), efficiency, sensory states and relations (to sensed entities), sensory retention, sensory anticipation, affect, and appreciation of individual differences. The scheme can ground explanations of false belief tests that do not require infants or nonhuman animals to use language. After the scheme is explained and applied, it is contrasted with other, superficially similar schemes proposed in the literature—for example, those of Gergely and Csibra, Wellman and Gopnik, Perner and Roessler, Flavell, and Apperly and Butterfill. Better methods for testing are briefly discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • The power law of visual working memory characterizes attention engagement. 20180507
    The quality or precision of stimulus representations in visual working memory can be characterized by a power law, which states that precision decreases as a power of the number of items in memory, with an exponent whose magnitude typically varies in the range 0.5 to 0.75. The authors show that the magnitude of the exponent is an index of the attentional demands of memory formation. They report 5 visual working memory experiments with tasks using noisy, backward-masked stimuli that varied in their attentional demands and show that the magnitude of the exponent increases systematically with the attentional demands of the task. Recall accuracy in the experiments was well described by an attention-weighted sample-size model that views visual working memory as a resource comprised of noisy evidence samples that are recruited during stimulus exposure and which can be allocated flexibly under attentional control. The magnitude of the exponent indexes the degree to which attention allocates resources to items in memory unequally rather than equally. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

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