Verbal Behavior and Learning: Problems and Processes: Proceedings

By Charles N. Cofer; Barbara S. Musgrave | Go to book overview
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Spence K. W. ( 1954) The relation of response latency and speed to the intervening variables and N in S-R theory. Psychol. Rev., 61, 209-216.

BRIEF NOTES ON THE EPAM THEORY OF VERBAL LEARNING1
E. A. Feigenbaum and H. A. Simon UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, AND CARNEGIE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGYWe have been asked briefly to sketch the EPAM (Elementary Perceiver and Memorizer) model. If these notes are overly succinct, clarification will be found in the references.Model and Method. EPAM is a theory of the information-processing activity underlying verbal learning behavior. The precise formulation of the model is given in an information-processing language for a computer. The computer is then used as a tool for generating the remote consequences of the information-processing postulates in particular experimental conditions. EPAM is a closed model in the sense that it can be treated as a subject in learning experiments. The experiments are not run "live" but are simulated using programs to simulate an experimenter, the apparatus, and the stimulus environment. Such simulated experiments yield a stream of verbal behavior from EPAM fully equivalent in nature to the "raw data" which an experimenter takes from his subject in a live experiment. Of course, the degree to which this behavior looks like human behavior in the same experiments is the fundamental question of model validation.EPAM I. EPAM contains a set of "macroprocesses" which deal with the organization of the total learning task, and a set of "microprocesses" which learn the individual items. (The macroprocesses are referred to as EPAM I, the complete model as EPAM II.) That such a factorization of the learning activity is useful and valid is argued in another place ( Feigenbaum and Simon, 1962).The fundamental assumptions of EPAM I are as follows:
1. Any given stimulus item requires a definite amount of processing time before it is learned. For items of the same average difficulty, this time is relatively constant. Thus, the total time to learn n items is given approximately by Tn = Kn. (It is postulated that time, rather than number of exposures per se, is the critical variable.)
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These notes were contributed after the conference at the invitation of Professor Postman (Ed.).

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