Volume 3: pp. 66-85

Pattern Structure and Rule Induction in Sequential Learning

by Stephen B. Fountain,
Kent State University

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When presented with structured sequences to learn, do nonhuman animals abstract and learn relational information-do they induce and learn rules? This paper provides an overview of the current evidence that bears on this question from our recent behavioral and psychobiological research on rat sequential learning. Evidence is presented that rats are sensitive to hierarchical structure in response sequences, that phrasing can bias rats’ perception of pattern structure, that rats induce pattern structures from nonadjacent items in “interleaved” patterns, and that rule learning processes are active concurrently with other learning processes. The paper also describes work on the psychobiology of sequential learning that shows that multiple concurrent cognitive processes can be dissociated by MK-801, an NMDA receptor antagonist, and by other drug and lesion manipulations. Taken together, the results indicate that rats use rule learning processes concurrently with associative learning processes in a wide variety of sequential learning problems.

Keywords: sequential learning, rule learning, hierarchical organization, phrasing, interleaved patterns

Fountain, S. B. (2008). Pattern Structure and Rule Induction in Sequential Learning. Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews, 3, 66-85. Retrieved from http://comparative-cognition-and-behavior-reviews.org/ doi:10.3819/ccbr.2008.30004