CUED Publications database

Cognitive Tomography Reveals Complex, Task-Independent Mental Representations

Houlsby, NT and Huszár, F and Ghassemi, M and Orbán, G and Wolpert, D and Lengyel, M (2013) Cognitive Tomography Reveals Complex, Task-Independent Mental Representations. Current Biology. ISSN 0960-9822

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Abstract

Humans develop rich mental representations that guide their behavior in a variety of everyday tasks. However, it is unknown whether these representations, often formalized as priors in Bayesian inference, are specific for each task or subserve multiple tasks. Current approaches cannot distinguish between these two possibilities because they cannot extract comparable representations across different tasks [1-10]. Here, we develop a novel method, termed cognitive tomography, that can extract complex, multidimensional priors across tasks. We apply this method to human judgments in two qualitatively different tasks, "familiarity" and "odd one out," involving an ecologically relevant set of stimuli, human faces. We show that priors over faces are structurally complex and vary dramatically across subjects, but are invariant across the tasks within each subject. The priors we extract from each task allow us to predict with high precision the behavior of subjects for novel stimuli both in the same task as well as in the other task. Our results provide the first evidence for a single high-dimensional structured representation of a naturalistic stimulus set that guides behavior in multiple tasks. Moreover, the representations estimated by cognitive tomography can provide independent, behavior-based regressors for elucidating the neural correlates of complex naturalistic priors. © 2013 The Authors.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: UNSPECIFIED
Divisions: Div F > Computational and Biological Learning
Depositing User: Cron Job
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 11:27
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2014 02:16
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.09.012