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Transfer in Rule-Based Category Learning Depends on the Training Task

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PLoS ONE

Public Library of Science

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      Abstract

      While learning is often highly specific to the exact stimuli and tasks used during training, there are cases where training results in learning that generalizes more broadly. It has been previously argued that the degree of specificity can be predicted based upon the learning solution(s) dictated by the particular demands of the training task. Here we applied this logic in the domain of rule-based categorization learning. Participants were presented with stimuli corresponding to four different categories and were asked to perform either a category discrimination task (which permits learning specific rule to discriminate two categories) or a category identification task (which does not permit learning a specific discrimination rule). In a subsequent transfer stage, all participants were asked to discriminate stimuli belonging to two of the categories which they had seen, but had never directly discriminated before (i.e., this particular discrimination was omitted from training). As predicted, learning in the category-discrimination tasks tended to be specific, while the category-identification task produced learning that transferred to the transfer discrimination task. These results suggest that the discrimination and identification tasks fostered the acquisition of different category representations which were more or less generalizable.

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      The VideoToolbox is a free collection of two hundred C subroutines for Macintosh computers that calibrates and controls the computer-display interface to create accurately specified visual stimuli. High-level platform-independent languages like MATLAB are best for creating the numbers that describe the desired images. Low-level, computer-specific VideoToolbox routines control the hardware that transforms those numbers into a movie. Transcending the particular computer and language, we discuss the nature of the computer-display interface, and how to calibrate and control it.
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        Bayesian t tests for accepting and rejecting the null hypothesis.

        Progress in science often comes from discovering invariances in relationships among variables; these invariances often correspond to null hypotheses. As is commonly known, it is not possible to state evidence for the null hypothesis in conventional significance testing. Here we highlight a Bayes factor alternative to the conventional t test that will allow researchers to express preference for either the null hypothesis or the alternative. The Bayes factor has a natural and straightforward interpretation, is based on reasonable assumptions, and has better properties than other methods of inference that have been advocated in the psychological literature. To facilitate use of the Bayes factor, we provide an easy-to-use, Web-based program that performs the necessary calculations.
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          Is working memory training effective? A meta-analytic review.

          It has been suggested that working memory training programs are effective both as treatments for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other cognitive disorders in children and as a tool to improve cognitive ability and scholastic attainment in typically developing children and adults. However, effects across studies appear to be variable, and a systematic meta-analytic review was undertaken. To be included in the review, studies had to be randomized controlled trials or quasi-experiments without randomization, have a treatment, and have either a treated group or an untreated control group. Twenty-three studies with 30 group comparisons met the criteria for inclusion. The studies included involved clinical samples and samples of typically developing children and adults. Meta-analyses indicated that the programs produced reliable short-term improvements in working memory skills. For verbal working memory, these near-transfer effects were not sustained at follow-up, whereas for visuospatial working memory, limited evidence suggested that such effects might be maintained. More importantly, there was no convincing evidence of the generalization of working memory training to other skills (nonverbal and verbal ability, inhibitory processes in attention, word decoding, and arithmetic). The authors conclude that memory training programs appear to produce short-term, specific training effects that do not generalize. Possible limitations of the review (including age differences in the samples and the variety of different clinical conditions included) are noted. However, current findings cast doubt on both the clinical relevance of working memory training programs and their utility as methods of enhancing cognitive functioning in typically developing children and healthy adults. (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, United States of America
            [2 ]Department of Psychology, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany
            Waseda University, JAPAN
            Author notes

            Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

            • Conceptualization: FK CSG.

            • Data curation: FK CSG.

            • Formal analysis: FK CRC.

            • Investigation: FK.

            • Methodology: FK CSG.

            • Project administration: FK CSG.

            • Resources: FK.

            • Software: FK.

            • Supervision: CSG.

            • Visualization: FK.

            • Writing – original draft: FK CSG.

            • Writing – review & editing: FK CSG CRC.

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            Role: Editor
            Journal
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            plos
            plosone
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
            1932-6203
            20 October 2016
            2016
            : 11
            : 10
            27764221 5072674 10.1371/journal.pone.0165260 PONE-D-16-30171
            © 2016 Kattner et al

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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            Figures: 4, Tables: 1, Pages: 17
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            The authors received no specific funding for this work.
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