Evaluating Cognitive Maps and Planning in Large Language Models with CogEval

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Ida Momennejad, Hosein Hasanbeig, Felipe Vieira Frujeri, Hiteshi Sharma, Nebojsa Jojic, Hamid Palangi, Robert Ness, Jonathan Larson


Recently an influx of studies claims emergent cognitive abilities in large language models (LLMs). Yet, most rely on anecdotes, overlook contamination of training sets, or lack systematic Evaluation involving multiple tasks, control conditions, multiple iterations, and statistical robustness tests. Here we make two major contributions. First, we propose CogEval, a cognitive science-inspired protocol for the systematic evaluation of cognitive capacities in LLMs. The CogEval protocol can be followed for the evaluation of various abilities. Second, here we follow CogEval to systematically evaluate cognitive maps and planning ability across eight LLMs (OpenAI GPT-4, GPT-3.5-turbo-175B, davinci-003-175B, Google Bard, Cohere-xlarge-52.4B, Anthropic Claude-1-52B, LLaMA-13B, and Alpaca-7B). We base our task prompts on human experiments, which offer both established construct validity for evaluating planning, and are absent from LLM training sets. We find that, while LLMs show apparent competence in a few planning tasks with simpler structures, systematic evaluation reveals striking failure modes in planning tasks, including hallucinations of invalid trajectories and falling in loops. These findings do not support the idea of emergent out-of-the-box planning ability in LLMs. This could be because LLMs do not understand the latent relational structures underlying planning problems, known as cognitive maps, and fail at unrolling goal-directed trajectories based on the underlying structure. Implications for application and future directions are discussed.