Strategic exploration and memory representations in decisions from experience

Practical information
28 February 2020

ENS, Jaurès building, Langevin room, 24 rue Lhomond, 75005 Paris


Computational accounts of decisions from experience often treat the information contained in new experiences as a disposable product. They are used once to update running evaluations of the available options, but once they have served their purpose they are simply discarded. When taken literal, these accounts imply that people should possess no declarative memory of the experiences that they have made. In this talk, I present evidence from a reanalysis of the 1.2 million sampling decisions in our meta-analysis (Wulff et al., 2018) and new experimental data that demonstrates that people indeed possess robust memories of experienced outcomes, as well as their relative frequencies, and that these representations guide strategic exploration.  These findings are difficult to reconcile with popular accounts of decisions from experiences, in particular those building on reinforcement learning models, and highlight the need for incorporating an episodic- or instance-based memory system in accounts of decisions from experience. 

To meet Dirk Wulff, please contact Magdalena Soukupova: