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Stimulus coding in human associative learning: flexible representations of parts and wholes


Melchers, K G; Shanks, D R; Lachnit, H (2008). Stimulus coding in human associative learning: flexible representations of parts and wholes. Behavioural Processes, 77(3):413-427.

Abstract

An enduring theme for theories of associative learning is the problem of explaining how configural discriminations—ones in which the significance of combinations of cues is inconsistent with the significance of the individual cues themselves—are learned. One approach has been to assume that configurations are the basic representational form on which associative processes operate, another has tried in contrast to retain elementalism. We review evidence that human learning is representationally flexible in a way that challenges both configural and elemental theories. We describe research showing that task demands, prior experience, instructions, and stimulus properties all influence whether a particular problem is solved configurally or elementally. Lines of possible future theory development are discussed.

Abstract

An enduring theme for theories of associative learning is the problem of explaining how configural discriminations—ones in which the significance of combinations of cues is inconsistent with the significance of the individual cues themselves—are learned. One approach has been to assume that configurations are the basic representational form on which associative processes operate, another has tried in contrast to retain elementalism. We review evidence that human learning is representationally flexible in a way that challenges both configural and elemental theories. We describe research showing that task demands, prior experience, instructions, and stimulus properties all influence whether a particular problem is solved configurally or elementally. Lines of possible future theory development are discussed.

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51 citations in Web of Science®
52 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:1 March 2008
Deposited On:28 Nov 2008 12:12
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:30
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0376-6357
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2007.09.013

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