Two key research issues in the field of causal learning are how people acquire causal knowledge when observing data that are presented sequentially, and the level of abstraction at which learning takes place. Does sequential causal learning solely involve the acquisition of specific cause-effect links, or do learners also acquire knowledge about abstract causal constraints? Recent empirical studies have revealed that experience with one set of causal cues can dramatically alter subsequent learning and performance with entirely different cues, suggesting that (...) learning involves abstract transfer, and such transfer effects involve sequential presentation of distinct sets of causal cues. It has been demonstrated that pre-training can modulate classic causal learning phenomena such as forward and backward blocking. To account for these effects, we propose a Bayesian theory of sequential causal learning. The theory assumes that humans are able to consider and use several alternative causal generative models, each instantiating a different causal integration rule. Model selection is used to decide which integration rule to use in a given learning environment in order to infer causal knowledge from sequential data. Detailed computer simulations demonstrate that humans rely on the abstract characteristics of outcome variables to select a causal integration rule, which in turn alters causal learning in a variety of blocking and overshadowing paradigms. When the nature of the outcome variable is ambiguous, humans select the model that yields the best fit with the recent environment, and then apply it to subsequent learning tasks. Based on sequential patterns of cue-outcome co-occurrence, the theory can account for a range of phenomena in sequential causal learning, including various blocking effects, primacy effects in some experimental conditions, and apparently abstract transfer of causal knowledge. (shrink)
Advances in artificial intelligence have raised a basic question about human intelligence: Is human reasoning best emulated by applying task‐specific knowledge acquired from a wealth of prior experience, or is it based on the domain‐general manipulation and comparison of mental representations? We address this question for the case of visual analogical reasoning. Using realistic images of familiar three‐dimensional objects (cars and their parts), we systematically manipulated viewpoints, part relations, and entity properties in visual analogy problems. We compared human performance to (...) that of two recent deep learning models (Siamese Network and Relation Network) that were directly trained to solve these problems and to apply their task‐specific knowledge to analogical reasoning. We also developed a new model using part‐based comparison (PCM) by applying a domain‐general mapping procedure to learned representations of cars and their component parts. Across four‐term analogies (Experiment 1) and open‐ended analogies (Experiment 2), the domain‐general PCM model, but not the task‐specific deep learning models, generated performance similar in key aspects to that of human reasoners. These findings provide evidence that human‐like analogical reasoning is unlikely to be achieved by applying deep learning with big data to a specific type of analogy problem. Rather, humans do (and machines might) achieve analogical reasoning by learning representations that encode structural information useful for multiple tasks, coupled with efficient computation of relational similarity. (shrink)
A key property of relational representations is their generativity: From partial descriptions of relations between entities, additional inferences can be drawn about other entities. A major theoretical challenge is to demonstrate how the capacity to make generative inferences could arise as a result of learning relations from non-relational inputs. In the present paper, we show that a bottom-up model of relation learning, initially developed to discriminate between positive and negative examples of comparative relations, can be extended to make generative inferences. (...) The model is able to make quasi-deductive transitive inferences and to qualitatively account for human responses to generative questions such as “What is an animal that is smaller than a dog?” These results provide evidence that relational models based on bottom-up learning mechanisms are capable of supporting generative inferences. (shrink)
People are adept at perceiving interactions from movements of simple shapes, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Previous studies have often used object movements defined by experimenters. The present study used aerial videos recorded by drones in a real-life environment to generate decontextualized motion stimuli. Motion trajectories of displayed elements were the only visual input. We measured human judgments of interactiveness between two moving elements and the dynamic change in such judgments over time. A hierarchical model was developed to account (...) for human performance in this task. The model represents interactivity using latent variables and learns the distribution of critical movement features that signal potential interactivity. The model provides a good fit to human judgments and can also be generalized to the original Heider–Simmel animations. The model can also synthesize decontextualized animations with a controlled degree of interactiveness, providing a viable tool for studying animacy and social perception. (shrink)
The field of causal learning and reasoning (largely overlooked in the target article) provides an illuminating case study of how the modern Bayesian framework has deepened theoretical understanding, resolved long-standing controversies, and guided development of new and more principled algorithmic models. This progress was guided in large part by the systematic formulation and empirical comparison of multiple alternative Bayesian models.