Adaptive Design Optimization in Experiments with People

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009)

Bibtex Metadata Paper


Daniel Cavagnaro, Jay Myung, Mark Pitt


In cognitive science, empirical data collected from participants are the arbiters in model selection. Model discrimination thus depends on designing maximally informative experiments. It has been shown that adaptive design optimization (ADO) allows one to discriminate models as efficiently as possible in simulation experiments. In this paper we use ADO in a series of experiments with people to discriminate the Power, Exponential, and Hyperbolic models of memory retention, which has been a long-standing problem in cognitive science, providing an ideal setting in which to test the application of ADO for addressing questions about human cognition. Using an optimality criterion based on mutual information, ADO is able to find designs that are maximally likely to increase our certainty about the true model upon observation of the experiment outcomes. Results demonstrate the usefulness of ADO and also reveal some challenges in its implementation.