A dynamic route-finder for the cognitive map.

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Cognitive behaviorist E. C. Tolman (1932) proposed many years ago that rats and men navigate with the aid of cognitive maps, but his theory was incomplete. Critic E. R. Guthrie (1935) pointed out that Tolman's maps lack a rule for action, a route finder. We show that a dynamic model for stimulus generalization based on an elementary diffusion process can reproduce the qualitative properties of spatial orientation in animals: area-restricted search in the open field, finding shortcuts,barrier learning (the Umweg problem), spatial "insight" in mazes, and radial maze behavior. The model provides a behavioristic reader for Tolman's cognitive map.





Reid, A. K., & Staddon, J. E. R. (1998) A dynamic route-finder for the cognitive map. Psychological Review, 105, 585-601.



John E. R. Staddon

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience

Until my retirement in 2007, my laboratory did experimental research on learning and adaptive behavior, mostly with animals: pigeons, rats, fish, parakeets.  We were particularly interested in timing and memory, feeding regulation, habituation and the ways in which pigeons and rats adapt to reward schedules. The aim  is to arrive at simple models for learning that can help to identify the underlying neural mechanisms. I continue to do theoretical and historical work on the power law in psychophysics, operant learning, timing and memory, habituation and feeding regulation.  I have applied some of these ideas to economics and financial markets and social issues such as traffic control (Distracting Miss Daisy, The Atlantic, 2008; Death by Stop Sign) and smoking (Unlucky Strike, Private Health and the Science, Law and Politics of Smoking, with David Hockney, UBP, 2013).  A second edition of Adaptive Behavior and Learning (Cambridge UP) was published in 2016. Most recently I have published Scientific Method: How Science Works, Fails to Work, and Pretends to Work. published by Routledge in December, 2017, Unlucky Strike Second Edition, and Science in an age of unreason (Regnery, 2022). 

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