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Doctor Sara Shettleworth

Lecture Abstract

Associations, Maps, and Modules in Spatial Learning:

The cognitive sciences have proposed three ways in which qualitativelydifferent and redundant kinds of information interact during spatiallearning: they may compete according to an error-correcting rule, they may beintegrated into cognitive maps, or they may be processed by independentmental modules or memory systems. Tests based on associative learning theorysupport the view that different kinds of information interact competitively,whereas some data from behavioral neuroscience and ethology suggest that,instead, distinct spatial memory systems or modules acquire informationsimultaneously, in parallel. Studies from my lab provide new evidence thatdistinct spatial information processing modules acquire information inparallel when animals learn to find their way around. The idea that theyform or use cognitive maps has not proven helpful.