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0898-929X
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1530-8898
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4.69

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

January 2017, Vol. 29, No. 1, Pages 150-166
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01024)
© 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Neural Correlates of Similarity- and Rule-based Generalization
Article PDF (1.27 MB)
Abstract

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 procedure 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 similarity-based 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.