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Development of directed and random exploration in children

Are young children just random explorers who learn serendipitously? Or are even young children guided by uncertainty-directed sampling, seeking to explore in a systematic fashion? We study how children between the ages of 4 and 9 search in an …

Similarities and differences in spatial and non-spatial cognitive maps

There is a resurgence of interest in "cognitive maps" based on recent evidence that the hippocampal-entorhinal system encodes both spatial and non-spatial information, with far-reaching implications for human behavior. Yet little is known about the …

Learning functions actively

How do people actively learn functional rules, i.e. a mapping of continuous inputs onto a continuous output? We investigate information search behavior in a multiple-feature function learning task in which participants either actively select or …

Stepwise versus globally optimal search in children and adults

How do children and adults search for information when stepwise-optimal strategies fail to identify the most efficient query? The value of questions is often measured in terms of stepwise information gain (expected reduction of entropy on the next …

Searching for rewards like a child means less generalization and more directed exploration

How do children and adults differ in their search for rewards? We considered three different hypotheses that attribute developmental differences to (a) children's increased random sampling, (b) more directed exploration toward uncertain options, or …

Active function learning

How do people actively explore to learn about functional relationships, that is, how continuous inputs map onto continuous outputs? We introduce a novel paradigm to investigate information search in continuous, multi-feature function learning …

Connecting conceptual and spatial search via a model of generalization

The idea of a "cognitive map" was originally developed to explain planning and generalization in spatial domains through a representation of inferred relationships between experiences. Recently, new research has suggested similar principles may also …

Generalization guides human exploration in vast decision spaces

From foraging for food to learning complex games, many aspects of human behaviour can be framed as a search problem with a vast space of possible actions. Under finite search horizons, optimal solutions are generally unobtainable. Yet, how do humans …

Generalized information theory meets human cognition: Introducing a unified framework to model uncertainty and information search

Searching for information is critical in many situations. In medicine, for instance, careful choice of a diagnostic test can help narrow down the range of plausible diseases that the patient might have. In a probabilistic framework, test selection is …

Towards a theory of heuristic and optimal planning for sequential information search

How should tests (or queries, questions, or experiments) be selected? Does it matter if only a single test is allowed, or if a sequential test strategy can be planned in advance? This article contributes two sets of theoretical results bearing on …