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Learning in a changing environment

Speekenbrink, M.; Shanks, D.R.; (2009) Learning in a changing environment. (ELSE Working Papers 348). ESRC Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution: London, UK. Green open access

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Multiple cue probability learning studies have typically focused on stationary environments. We present three experiments investigating learning in changing environments. A fine-grained analysis of the learning dynamics shows that participants were responsive to both abrupt and gradual changes in cue-outcome relations. We found no evidence that participants adapted to these types of change in qualitatively different ways. Also, in contrast to earlier claims that these tasks are learned implicitly, participants showed good insight into what they learned. By fitting formal learning models, we investigated whether participants learned global functional relationships or made localized predictions from similar experienced exemplars. Both a local (the Associative Learning Model) and a global learning model (the novel Bayesian Linear Filter) fitted the data of the first two experiments. However, the results of Experiment 3, which was specifically designed to discriminate between local and global learning models, provided more support for global learning models. Finally, we present a novel model to account for the cue competition effects found in previous research and displayed by some of our participants.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Learning in a changing environment
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://else.econ.ucl.ac.uk/newweb/papers.php#2009
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/18896
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