The Neural Correlates of Similarity- and Rule-based Generalization

Fraser Milton, Pippa Bealing, Kathryn L. Carpenter, Abdelmalek Bennattayallah, Andy J. Wills
2017 Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience  
■ The idea that there are multiple learning systems has become increasingly influential in recent years with many studies providing evidence that there is both a quick, similarity-based, or feature-based system and a more effortful, rule-based system. A smaller number of imaging studies have also examined whether neurally dissociable learning systems are detectable. We further investigate this by employing for the first time in an imaging study a combined positive and negative patterning
more » ... re originally developed by Shanks and Darby [Shanks, D. R., & Darby, R. J. Feature-and rule-based generalization in human associative learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 24, 405-415, 1998]. Unlike previous related studies employing other procedures, rule generalization in the Shanks-Darby task is beyond any simple non-rule-based (e.g., associative) account. We found that rule-and similaritybased generalization evoked common activation in diverse regions including the pFC and the bilateral parietal and occipital lobes indicating that both strategies likely share a range of common processes. No differences between strategies were identified in whole-brain comparisons, but exploratory analyses indicated that rule-based generalization led to greater activation in the right middle frontal cortex than similarity-based generalization. Conversely, the similarity group activated the anterior medial frontal lobe and right inferior parietal lobes more than the rule group did. The implications of these results are discussed. ■
doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01024 pmid:27575389 fatcat:aot2eaelurfkbkaqm4ckj5rynu