Technical Program

Paper Detail

Paper: PS-2A.39
Session: Poster Session 2A
Location: Symphony/Overture
Session Time: Friday, September 7, 17:15 - 19:15
Presentation Time:Friday, September 7, 17:15 - 19:15
Presentation: Poster
Paper Title: Network constraints on learnability of probabilistic motor sequences
Manuscript:  Click here to view manuscript
Authors: Ari E. Kahn, Elisabeth A. Karuza, University of Pennsylvania, United States; Jean M. Vettel, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, United States; Danielle S. Bassett, University of Pennsylvania, United States
Abstract: Human learners are adept at grasping the complex relationships underlying incoming sequential input. In the present work, we formalize complex relationships as graph structures derived from temporal associations in motor sequences. Next, we explore the extent to which learners are sensitive to key variations in the topological properties inherent to those graph structures. Participants performed a probabilistic motor sequence task in which the order of button presses was determined by the traversal of graphs with modular, lattice-like, or random organization. Graph nodes each represented a unique button press and edges represented a transition between button presses. Results indicate that learning, indexed here by participants' response times, was strongly mediated by the graph's meso-scale organization, with modular graphs being associated with shorter response times than random and lattice graphs. Moreover, variations in a node's number of connections (degree) and a node's role in mediating long-distance communication (betweeness centrality) impacted graph learning, even after accounting for level of practice on that node. These results demonstrate that the graph architecture underlying temporal sequences of stimuli fundamentally constrains learning, and moreover that tools from network science provide a valuable framework for assessing how learners encode complex, temporally structured information.