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Visual search mimics configural processing in human causal learning

Pérez, Omar D. and Narasiwodeyar, Sanjay and Soto, Fabián A. (2019) Visual search mimics configural processing in human causal learning. . (Unpublished)

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Theories of generalization distinguish between elemental and configural stimulus processing, depending on whether stimulus in a compound are processed independently or as distinct entities. Evidence for elemental processing comes from findings of summation in animals, whereas configural processing is supported by experiments that fail to find this effect when similar stimuli are employed. In humans, by contrast, summation is robust and independent of similarity. We show how these results are best explained by an alternative view in which generalization comes about from a visual search process in which subjects process the most predictive or salient stimulus in a compound. We offer empirical support for this theory in three human experiments on causal learning and formalize a new elemental visual search model based on reinforcement learning principles which can capture the present and previous data on generalization, bridging two different research areas in psychology into a unitary framework.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
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Pérez, Omar D.0000-0002-4168-5435
Alternate Title:Visual search mimics configural processing in associative learning
Additional Information:The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license. bioRxiv preprint first posted online Jul. 24, 2019. We thank Jaron Colas for insightful comments on a previous version of this manuscript and S.D.G. for the support.
Subject Keywords:generalization, Rescorla-Wagner, configural, summation, elemental, visual search
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190724-154336969
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Official Citation:Visual search mimics configural processing in human causal learning. Omar David Perez, Sanjay Narasiwodeyar, Fabian Aurelio Soto. bioRxiv 713420; doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:97393
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:24 Jul 2019 22:50
Last Modified:02 Mar 2020 21:08

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