Adapting to Change: The Role of Priors, Surprise and Brain Damage on Mental Model Updating
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To make sense of the world, humans build mental models that guide actions and expectations. These mental models need to be receptive to change and updated when they no longer accurately predict observations from an environment. Although ubiquitous in our everyday lives, research is still uncovering the factors that guide mental model building and updating. A significant challenge arises from the need to characterize how mental models can be both robust to noisy, stochastic fluctuations, while also being flexible to environmental changes. The current thesis explores this trade-off by examining some of the main components involved in updating. Chapter 2 proposes a novel task to measure the influence of prior mental models on the way new information is integrated. Chapter 3 tests the role of unexpected, ‘surprising’ events on our ability to detect changes in the environment. Chapter 4 measures the strategies used to explore new mental models, after a change has been detected, and how specific forms of brain damage influence these strategies. The results from this thesis provide novel insights into the behavioural and neural mechanisms that underlie mental model updating. The last chapter situates these results in existing literature, and suggests directions for future research.
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Alexandre Filipowicz (2017). Adapting to Change: The Role of Priors, Surprise and Brain Damage on Mental Model Updating. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11724