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The Department of Psychology is delighted to announce the next online talk of the Mind Meeting Seminar Series.

On Thursday 20th May, 11 am CET, Professor Christopher Summerfield (University of Oxford, UK) will give a talk entitled “Relational knowledge representation and assembly in humans and neural networks”.

When: Thursday 20th May,  11:00 – 12:15 pm (CET)

The talk will take place virtually via Zoom. Please contact us at [email protected] if you are interested in taking part.


Humans represent complex knowledge structures and use them for inference. I will describe experiments involving  human behavioural testing, modelling, and brain imaging that use transitive inference as a paradigm for studying relational knowledge representation. I will show evidence that humans use neural representations of number, lying on a low-dimensional neural manifold, as a scaffold for learning novel transitive series. I will show that when transitive series are  learned in different contexts, the neural representations align in a way that facilitates cross-context generalisation. The behaviour and neural representations observed in humans closely match those seen in neural networks trained to perform the same task. Finally, I will show that  a brief training instance can allow neural knowledge assembly, whereby two existing existing transitive structures are rapidly linked into a single  line, and that this  is  paralleled by fast changes in neural geometry in the human parietal cortex. Finally we propose a neural network  account of how this knowledge assembly occurs.