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Journal Articles Open Mind Year : 2024

Two Determinants of Dynamic Adaptive Learning for Magnitudes and Probabilities


Humans face a dynamic world that requires them to constantly update their knowledge. Each observation should influence their knowledge to a varying degree depending on whether it arises from a stochastic fluctuation or an environmental change. Thus, humans should dynamically adapt their learning rate based on each observation. Although crucial for characterizing the learning process, these dynamic adjustments have only been investigated empirically in magnitude learning. Another important type of learning is probability learning. The latter differs from the former in that individual observations are much less informative and a single one is insufficient to distinguish environmental changes from stochasticity. Do humans dynamically adapt their learning rate for probabilities? What determinants drive their dynamic adjustments in magnitude and probability learning? To answer these questions, we measured the subjects’ learning rate dynamics directly through real-time continuous reports during magnitude and probability learning. We found that subjects dynamically adapt their learning rate in both types of learning. After a change point, they increase their learning rate suddenly for magnitudes and prolongedly for probabilities. Their dynamics are driven differentially by two determinants: change-point probability, the main determinant for magnitudes, and prior uncertainty, the main determinant for probabilities. These results are fully in line with normative theory, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Overall, our findings demonstrate a remarkable human ability for dynamic adaptive learning under uncertainty, and guide studies of the neural mechanisms of learning, highlighting different determinants for magnitudes and probabilities.
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hal-04591319 , version 1 (28-05-2024)




Cedric Foucault, Florent Meyniel. Two Determinants of Dynamic Adaptive Learning for Magnitudes and Probabilities. Open Mind, 2024, 8, pp.615-638. ⟨10.1162/opmi_a_00139⟩. ⟨hal-04591319⟩
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