Abstract - Wifall

How does perceptual and motoric similarity affect learning?

Abstract: The research proposed in the Delta Center grant will examine how stimulus and response similarity affect learning in a motor task (stimuli are mapped to response keys, similar to playing a chord on a piano). The results from preliminary experiments suggest an analogy between the processes engaged during word recognition and those engaged during motor learning. In word recognition models, similar words compete with the target word for activation and subsequently slow word recognition. We posit that this phenomenon may extend to other types of learning:  When shared elements in the input are associated with multiple outputs, there is competition that slows performance. The proposed experiments will test how stimulus and response similarity affect learning and explore the parallels between motor and word learning. (Tim Wifall, collaborating with Eliot Hazeltine and Bob McMurray).