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Reasoning rats and clever kids: The role of reasoning in human and animal causal learning

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A host of findings suggest that causal learning in adult humans relies on sophisticated inferential processes that require working memory and reasoning abilities. Such findings are in apparent contrast with the seemingly automatic and associative nature of causal learning in animals and young children. I will review a number of studies in rats and young children that suggest that highly similar cognitive processes may govern causal learning in mammals of different species and age after all.


Tom Beckers is associate professor of research at KU Leuven, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, and adjunct faculty member at the Department of Clinical Psychology of the University of Amsterdam. Before, he has been visiting assistant professor at Binghamton University, visiting research fellow at UCLA , and assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam. His research concerns fundamental processes of learning and conditioning in infant and adult humans and in rodents, using behavioural, neurobiological, and computational techniques. He also has a strong interest in the role of learning and conditioning in psychopathology (particularly fear, addiction and ADHD ). His research is funded by FWO , NWO, ESRC , Belgian Federal Government and KU Leuven. He is associate editor for Experimental Psychology and Frontiers in Cognition.

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