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headshot of Kenneth J. Kurtz

Kenneth J. Kurtz

Associate Professor/Cognitive and Brain Sciences Coordinator

Psychology

Background

A key purpose of the cognitive activity in the human mind is making sense of the world around us. To scientifically account for this process of ordering our experience, we must address: 1) how knowledge is used as a basis for comprehension and reasoning; and 2) how such knowledge is acquired and organized. Much of the work in Kurtz's laboratory focuses on two cognitive mechanisms that serve as a bridge between perceptual experience and stored knowledge: categorization is the process of interpreting an example as a member of a known class or concept; and comparison is the process of interpreting an example with respect to (or in light of) another. Categorization and comparison processes not only serve to guide interpretation in terms of prior knowledge, but they can also guide learning or conceptual change by updating the knowledge itself. Their work in the lab consists of behavioral studies of the nature and roles of categorization and comparison along with the design of neural network models used to instantiate theoretical claims and simulate human learning and cognitive performance.

Education

  • PhD, Stanford University
  • BS, Brown University

Research Interests

  • similarity and analogy
  • neural network models of cognition
  • knowledge representation
  • education and transfer of learning
  • machine learning

Research Profile