Psychology Magazine

Meta-Learned Models of Cognition

By Deric Bownds @DericBownds

I pass on the text of a recent email from Behavioral and Brain Sciences inviting commentary on an article by Binz et al.  I am beginning to plow through the interesting text and figures - and will mention that motivated readers can obtain a PDF of the article from me.

Target Article: Meta-Learned Models of Cognition
Authors: Marcel Binz, Ishita Dasgupta, Akshay K. Jagadish, Matthew Botvinick, Jane X. Wang, and Eric Schulz
Deadline for Commentary Proposals: Wednesday, December 20, 2023
Abstract: Psychologists and neuroscientists extensively rely on computational models for studying and analyzing the human mind. Traditionally, such computational models have been hand-designed by expert researchers. Two prominent examples are cognitive architectures and Bayesian models of cognition. While the former requires the specification of a fixed set of computational structures and a definition of how these structures interact with each other, the latter necessitates the commitment to a particular prior and a likelihood function which - in combination with Bayes' rule - determine the model's behavior. In recent years, a new framework has established itself as a promising tool for building models of human cognition: the framework of meta-learning. In contrast to the previously mentioned model classes, meta-learned models acquire their inductive biases from experience, i.e., by repeatedly interacting with an environment. However, a coherent research program around meta-learned models of cognition is still missing to this day. The purpose of this article is to synthesize previous work in this field and establish such a research program. We accomplish this by pointing out that meta-learning can be used to construct Bayes-optimal learning algorithms, allowing us to draw strong connections to the rational analysis of cognition. We then discuss several advantages of the meta-learning framework over traditional methods and reexamine prior work in the context of these new insights.
Keywords: meta-learning, rational analysis, Bayesian inference, cognitive modeling, neural networks

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