Stellan Ohlsson, Ph.D.


Stellan Ohlsson is Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) since 1996. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Stockholm. He has held positions as Research Associate in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University and as Senior Scientist in the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) at the University of Pittsburgh. His work has been supported by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other organizations. Dr. Ohlsson has published extensively on computational models of cognition, creative insight, skill acquisition, the design of instructional software and other topics in higher cognition. He lives in central Chicago with his wife, Elaine C. Ohlsson. His interests range from evolutionary biology to the history of World War II. He enjoys backpacking, SCUBA diving and traveling.

Research Interests:
Synopsis of “Deep Learning”:StellanBook
Although the ability to retain, process and project prior experience onto future situations is indispensable, the human mind also possesses the ability to override experience and adapt to changing circumstances. People do more than adapt; they instigate change and create novelty. The cognitive processes that underpin the capacity for such non-monotonic cognitive changes or “deep learning” have received less attention in the cognitive sciences than the processes required to extrapolate prior experience.

In “Deep Learning: How the Mind Overrides Experience” I derive the need for deep learning from the complex, non-linear character of the environment. I analyze three types of non-monotonic change: creativity, adaptation, and belief revision. For each topic, I summarize past research and re-formulate the relevant research questions. I propose specific information processing mechanisms that answers those question. The three theories are based on the principles of redistribution of activation, specialization of practical knowledge, and re-subsumption of declarative information. The implications of those mechanisms are developed by scaling their effects with respect to time, complexity and social interaction. The book ends with a unified theory of non-monotonic cognitive change that captures the properties that the three types of change share. See excerpt from book

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