Behavior is a complex phenomenon, and so, my research program tries to encompass many aspects of it. Below are some topics that I am currently working on.
We face innumerable options every day, and the interaction between internal and external stimulation guides our behavior. The bulk of this work is unpublished, and actively being worked on as part of my Ph.D. dissertation. Nevertheless, the underlying question behind this research program is simple: how do organisms make use of positive and negative information in familar and novel situations?
You know cars, flowers, cats, and chairs. Why? Categorization is the ability to discriminate between members of different classes, and to generalize between members of the same class. However, this otherwise trivial cognitive function has non-trivial implementation at the algorithmic level. As part of Ed Wasserman’s lab, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the processes underlying the categorization behavior of humans and pigeons.
Our perceptual systems cannot feasibly process all the information captured by our sensory systems, and so, some filtration of behaviorally-irrelevant information, or enhancement of behaviorally-relevant information must occur. My research aims to understand the close relation between learning and attention, as deployed in simple discriminations or categorization tasks.
Does new information that contradicts old information replace the latter? Unlikely; old information tends to reappear. Many of my initial forays in the field of experimental psychology aimed to prevent the return of Pavlovian tolerance to drugs. Extinction cues, massive extinction, extinction in multiple contexts; they all work, but only partially.