All Publications

  • Habituation Reflects Optimal Exploration Over Noisy Perceptual Samples. Topics in cognitive science Cao, A., Raz, G., Saxe, R., Frank, M. C. 2022


    From birth, humans constantly make decisions about what to look at and for how long. Yet, the mechanism behind such decision-making remains poorly understood. Here, we present the rational action, noisy choice for habituation (RANCH) model. RANCH is a rational learning model that takes noisy perceptual samples from stimuli and makes sampling decisions based on expected information gain (EIG). The model captures key patterns of looking time documented in developmental research: habituation and dishabituation. We evaluated the model with adult looking time collected from a paradigm analogous to the infant habituation paradigm. We compared RANCH with baseline models (no learning model, no perceptual noise model) and models with alternative linking hypotheses (Surprisal, KL divergence). We showed that (1) learning and perceptual noise are critical assumptions of the model, and (2) Surprisal and KL are good proxies for EIG under the current learning context.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/tops.12631

    View details for PubMedID 36322897

  • Quantifying the syntactic bootstrapping effect in verb learning: A meta-analytic synthesis. Developmental science Cao, A., Lewis, M. 2021


    How do children infer the meaning of a novel verb? One prominent proposal is that children rely on syntactic information in the linguistic context, a phenomenon known as "syntactic bootstrapping" (Naigles, 1990). For example, given the sentence "The bunny is gorping the duck," a child could use knowledge of English syntactic roles to infer that "gorping" refers to an action where the bunny is acting in some way on a duck. Here, we examine the strength of the syntactic bootstrapping effect, its developmental trajectory and generalizability using meta-analytic methods. Across 60 experiments in the literature (N = 849 participants), we find a reliable syntactic bootstrapping effect (d = .24). Yet, despite its theoretical prominence, the syntactic bootstrapping effect is relatively small, comparable in size to cross-situational learning and sound symbolism, but smaller than mutual-exclusivity and gaze-following. Further, we find that the effect does not strengthen over development, and is present only for studies that use transitive sentences. An examination of a range of methodological factors suggests that the effect is not strongly influenced by methodological implementation. In the General Discussion, we consider implications of our findings for theories of verb learning and make recommendations for future research. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/desc.13176

    View details for PubMedID 34592047