Capturing Dynamic Performance in a Cognitive Model: Estimating ACT‐R Memory Parameters With the Linear Ballistic Accumulator

Topics in Cognitive Science 14 (4):889-903 (2022)
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The parameters governing our behavior are in constant flux. Accurately capturing these dynamics in cognitive models poses a challenge to modelers. Here, we demonstrate a mapping of ACT-R's declarative memory onto the linear ballistic accumulator (LBA), a mathematical model describing a competition between evidence accumulation processes. We show that this mapping provides a method for inferring individual ACT-R parameters without requiring the modeler to build and fit an entire ACT-R model. Existing parameter estimation methods for the LBA can be used, instead of the computationally expensive parameter sweeps that are traditionally done. We conduct a parameter recovery study to confirm that the LBA can recover ACT-R parameters from simulated data. Then, as a proof of concept, we use the LBA to estimate ACT-R parameters from an empirical dataset. The resulting parameter estimates provide a cognitively meaningful explanation for observed differences in behavior over time and between individuals. In addition, we find that the mapping between ACT-R and LBA lends a more concrete interpretation to ACT-R's latency factor parameter, namely as a measure of response caution. This work contributes to a growing movement towards integrating formal modeling approaches in cognitive science.



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