ACT-R Basics: Declarative and Procedural Memory Systems - Deepstash

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ACT-R Basics: Declarative and Procedural Memory Systems

ACT-R Basics: Declarative and Procedural Memory Systems

ACT-R argues that we have two different memory systems: declarative and procedural.

  • The declarative system includes all your memories of events, facts, ideas and experiences. Everything you consciously experience is part of this system.

The procedural system consists of everything you can do.


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Implications of ACT-R

There are a few general implications we can tease out:

  1. Most skills will be highly specific . A microscopic analysis of any two skills should, in principle, tell us how much transfer is possible.
  2. Transfer should look smaller on tests of problem solving t...


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The Procedural System

The Procedural System

The basic unit of the procedural system is the production. This is an IF -> THEN pattern.

Think of productions like the atomic thinking steps involved in solving a problem.

Unlike the sprawling, interlinked declarative memory, productions ar...


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A Note on Scientific Paradigms

A Note on Scientific Paradigms

All scientific theories are built on paradigms .A paradigm is an example that you take as central for describing a phenomenon.

Newton had falling apples and orbiting planets. Obviously, ...


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Why Two Systems?

Why two separate systems? A single system would be simpler. But there’s an impressive range of evidence arguing that these systems are distinct in the brain:

  • Amnesiacs can learn through the procedural system, but not the declarative system .
  • Procedural ...


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Awareness And Memory

The declarative memory structure is vast, but only a few chunks are active at any one time.

This reflects the distinction between conscious awareness and memory. When we need to remember something, we search through the network.

  • For practiced memories


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Complex Skills

ACT-R explains complex skills as an ongoing interaction between these two systems.

  • The declarative system represents the outside world, your inner thoughts and intentions.
  • The procedural system acts on those representations to make ov...


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The Declarative System

The Declarative System

The basic unit of declarative memory is the chunk. This is a structure that binds approximately three pieces of information.

The idea is that, through experience, we connect these chunks into elaborate networks. We can then traverse these ...


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This Is Where ACT-R Theory Comes In:

This Is Where ACT-R Theory Comes In:

How do we learn to perform complex skills like programming, physics, or piloting a plane? What changes in our brain allow us to perform these skills?

These are hard questions. Most experiments only attempt to address narrow slices of the problem.

This is what makes J...


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How Do We Acquire Skills?

In the ACT-R theory, learning skills is thought to be a process of acquiring and strengthening productions.

Initially, productions are learned via analogy. We search our long-term declarative memories for a similar problem. Then we try to match this to our current represent...


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Activating The Nodes

How do nodes get activated?

  1. First, you perceive things from the outside world that automatically activate nodes in memory .
  2. Second, you can rehearse things internally to maintain them in memory
  3. Third, nodes can activate conne...


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How ACT-R Claims You Solve Problems

  1. You form a representation of the problem in your declarative system . .
  2. Productions compete with each other based on this current representation .
  3. As each production is executed, it changes your present state .


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Why Learning Complex Skills Take Time

ACT-R argues that we don’t learn by explicit instruction, only by example.

When we appear to learn via instruction, we first generate an example based on the instruction and then use this example to create a new production.

Once created, productions are strengthened ...


442 reads




This article gives a holistic view on ACT - R theory and how do we learn complex skills. ✓


The different kinds of memories

The different kinds of memories

We hold on to different kinds of memories.

  • Short-term memories last seconds to hours and long-term memories last for years.
  • We also have a working memory, which allows us to keep something in mind for a limited time by repea...

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