Research Topic

Chunks and retrieval structures: grasping the big picture through different viewpoints

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Psychological concepts most often remain confined within domains of research or within communities, which has the advantage of narrowing down the meaning of these concepts maybe giving them more consistency. The downside is a lack of communication between domains having for consequence both a potential loss ...

Psychological concepts most often remain confined within domains of research or within communities, which has the advantage of narrowing down the meaning of these concepts maybe giving them more consistency. The downside is a lack of communication between domains having for consequence both a potential loss of synergy for the communities and weak conceptual integration with time. Fortunately, Retrieval Structures and especially Chunks are among those psychology constructs that are transversal, allowing interconnections among various communities. In the domain of expertise for example, chunk/chunking is a very active object of study, but it is also very important in the classic domain of human memory studies and animal learning. The same could be said for retrieval structures. Moreover, the methods used to study these constructs are also very broad, generating behavioral and physiological data, as well as computational simulations, which feed different communities.

The main idea of this Research Topic is to continue and help accelerate this ongoing endeavor bringing together researchers from various communities which have their eyes pointed towards the same object of study but from different viewpoints. It is only in such a way that depth can be perceived, allowing, we believe, the big picture to emerge. Therefore, we are expecting papers from a wide range of domains using a variety of methods such as behavioral studies, computational modeling, and physiological imaging. This Research Topic does not target one population in particular since these psychological constructs can be observed in all-comers, in experts, in patients with neurological or psychiatric disorders such as autism or schizophrenia, or even in animals. Papers allowing an historical perspective are also welcome.

The only requirement is that all papers need to be centered on the concepts of chunks or/and retrieval structures. A chunk can be defined as a collection of separate constituents being linked together in order to be processed as one element. Each constituent has strong associations within its chunk and weak with other chunks. The perspective is twofold: 1) perceptual, allowing for instance automatic grouping processes to occur or 2) conceptual, to refer to a more conventional notion of chunking. Concerning retrieval structures, they can be envisaged in two ways: 1) as a set of long-term memory cues used to encode and retrieve reliably information from memory and/or 2) as templates, that is, schemas with slots that can be filled with variable information, including chunks.


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