New paper in JEP:General

Congratulations to graduate student Ata Karagoz on another first-author publication! Building on work from Wouter Kool and the Control and Decision Making Lab, Ata modified a two-stage sequential decision-making task – designed to dissociate between model-free and model-based decisions – to investigate how we build internal representations of our environment, and how this “cognitive map” guides our decisions.

Using behavioral representational similarity analysis of novel 3D objects encountered during the decision-making task, Ata found that participants who demonstrated more model-based behavior encoded higher-order relationships between the objects. In contrast, participants who focused on lower-order relationships, such as simple visual co-occurrence of objects, tended to make more model-free decisions. Moreover, participants encoded higher-order relationships between objects more strongly in high-reward trials than in low-reward contexts, indicating a role for motivation during cognitive map construction. Together, these findings show that people build cognitive maps of a task, and the quality of these maps predict how much they plan towards a reward.

The full paper, titled “The construction and use of cognitive maps in model-based control,” is available in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Great work, Ata!

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