Control of mental representations in human planning

05/14/2021
by   Mark K Ho, et al.
5

One of the most striking features of human cognition is the capacity to plan. Two aspects of human planning stand out: its efficiency, even in complex environments, and its flexibility, even in changing environments. Efficiency is especially impressive because directly computing an optimal plan is intractable, even for modestly complex tasks, and yet people successfully solve myriad everyday problems despite limited cognitive resources. Standard accounts in psychology, economics, and artificial intelligence have suggested this is because people have a mental representation of a task and then use heuristics to plan in that representation. However, this approach generally assumes that mental representations are fixed. Here, we propose that mental representations can be controlled and that this provides opportunities to adaptively simplify problems so they can be more easily reasoned about – a process we refer to as construal. We construct a formal model of this process and, in a series of large, pre-registered behavioral experiments, show both that construal is subject to online cognitive control and that people form value-guided construals that optimally balance the complexity of a representation and its utility for planning and acting. These results demonstrate how strategically perceiving and conceiving problems facilitates the effective use of limited cognitive resources.

READ FULL TEXT

page 1

page 3

page 7

page 9

page 25

page 26

page 27

page 28

07/27/2020

Resource-rational Task Decomposition to Minimize Planning Costs

People often plan hierarchically. That is, rather than planning over a m...
02/13/2020

The Efficiency of Human Cognition Reflects Planned Information Processing

Planning is useful. It lets people take actions that have desirable long...
01/03/2022

Have I done enough planning or should I plan more?

People's decisions about how to allocate their limited computational res...
01/08/2010

Decisional Processes with Boolean Neural Network: the Emergence of Mental Schemes

Human decisional processes result from the employment of selected quanti...
02/11/2021

Advantage of prediction and mental imagery for goal‐directed behaviour in agents and robots

Mental imagery and planning are important aspects of cognitive behaviour...
07/25/2017

Physical problem solving: Joint planning with symbolic, geometric, and dynamic constraints

In this paper, we present a new task that investigates how people intera...
07/13/2021

Encoding Compositionality in Classical Planning Solutions

Classical AI planners provide solutions to planning problems in the form...