Categories and Concepts Laboratory at St. Mary’s College of Maryland

This is the home of Professor Roger Stanton’s Categories and Concepts Laboratory at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.  In this laboratory, Professor Stanton explores a variety of issues related to cognition and this research is conducted in collaboration with student research assistants at St. Mary’s College of Maryland as well as researchers at other institutions.  The primary areas of research are category learning, decision-making, recognition memory, and testing quantitative models of human cognition.

Roger Stanton holds a B.S. in psychology from Arizona State University, a Ph.D. from Indiana university with a double major in psychology and cognitive science, and joined the faculty at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2007.

Roger Stanton’s research interests

Category Learning
The tendency for humans to classify percepts into categories is a fundamental aspect of human cognition.  Rather than simply perceiving an object, objects are perceived as belonging to, or being a member of some category.  A deer in the wild must identify a plant as edible or poisonous; a soldier in war must rapidly distinguish someone as friend or foe.  These are all acts of perceiving, but importantly, they are acts of perceiving something as having category membership.  A primary focus of my research at St. Mary’s College of Maryland focuses on examining how humans learn to categorize perceptual objects and then implementing computational models that simulate this learning behavior.

One of the main topics of investigation has been a systematic investigation of a series of dissociations of classification learning that were reported in support of the COVIS model of category learning.  Most recently, Roger Stanton and Robert Nosofsky (2013) published an article in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.  The research for this article was conducted in Professor Roger Stanton’s laboratory at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.  In a nut shell, this article provided empirical evidence indicating that the dissociation disappears when key extraneous variables are controlled.  Furthermore, Stanton and Nosofsky showed that a single-system model was able to account for all of the results and, importantly, that a multiple-system model was not able to predict the disappearance of the dissociation.

You can see several of the publications by searching for Roger Stanton category learning, or by visiting the Google Scholars citation for Roger Stanton.  Although there are numerous articles investigating dissociations of category learning systems.  The articles reported by Roger Stanton and Robert Nosofsky comprise the most complete set of investigations of the reported dissociations.

Another area of research explored the classic Shepard, Hovland and Jenkins (1961) result of a learning advantage for an exclusive-or problem (Type II).  In collaboration with Kenneth Kurtz, Roger Stanton and his St. Mary’s College of Maryland student, Steven Morris, examined the robustness of the Type II advantage.  Across numerous experiments, Kurtz and Stanton were able to systematically examine the factors that contribute to a Type II advantage.

In addition to the recent work above, Roger Stanton has published articles examining probabilistic feedback manipulations and comparisons between exemplar-similarity and prototype models.  This work was conducted prior to arrival at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Recognition Memory
The single-system exemplar-based model that is the basis for the category learning studies predicts a fundamental relationship between category learning and recognition memory.  Stanton and Nosofsky (2006) demonstrated that an exemplar-based random-walk model was able to predict old-new recognition performance for individual participants at the level of predicting accuracy and response times for individual items.

If you are a student at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and you’re interested in working with Professor Roger Stanton in the Categories and Concepts Laboratory, please contact me by email and explain your interest in joining the lab.  If you have taken my cognitive psychology course at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and are interested in pursuing one of the topics discussed in that course, then please explain your interest and your ideas for an empirical investigation.


Roger Stanton

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