MSc Psychological Research, University of Oxford; MA (Hons) Psychology, University of St Andrews
How do we learn abstract and concrete structures in the world around us? How is this knowledge encoded in the brain?
In my PhD, I am planning on addressing the two questions posed above in a variety of ways.
Firstly, I want to understand how we are able to learn structures and then use that knowledge to make flexible inferences to maximise reward as well as generalise that structural or model-based knowledge across different context if and when appropriate.
Second, I want to investigate how we can use structural knowledge to actively navigate the world around us, both in a spatial and abstract way using cognitive maps of our environment.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I am planning on investigating how we learn these structures or cognitive maps most efficiently. A myriad of recently published work (e.g. Schapiro (2012, 2013, 2014)) has investigated the effect of implicit learning of structure on neural and behavioural traces of the representations of that structure. However, most statistical learning papers do not address how we learn these structures most efficiently in the first place. I aim to address hypotheses regarding the order of learning of the central and peripheral components of structures as well as investigate the effect of temporal proximity in less clustered graphs on both im- and explicit navigation and learning of cognitive maps or graphs.