Thomas Shultz (PhD Yale, Psychology) is Professor of Psychology and Associate Member of the School of Computer Science at McGill University. He teaches courses in Computational Psychology and Cognitive Science. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association, and a founder and current Director of the McGill Cognitive Science Programs. Research interests include cognitive science, cognitive development, evolution and learning, relations between knowledge and learning, decision making, problem solving, memory, neural networks, and agent-based modeling. He has over 440 research publications in these areas.
- Ardavan Nobandegani's paper resolving the centuries-old St. Petersburg Paradox won the award for Best Computational Modeling Paper on Higher-level Cognition at the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, July 2019. This paradox concerns a lottery with infinite expected payoff, on which people are nevertheless willing to place only a very small bet. See the abstract and URL for the journal version published in Topics in Cognitive Science, under PUBLICATIONS / Decision making. Or RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS / Resolving the St. Petersburg paradox.
- Peter Helfer's paper on systems-level memory consolidation and reconsolidation was published on Christmas eve 2019 in the journal Hippocampus. Newly acquired memories depend on the hippocampus for maintenance and recall, but over time these functions are taken over by the neocortex through a process called systems memory consolidation. Reactivation of a well-consolidated memory can return it to a hippocampus-dependent state. This is normally followed by a restoration of hippocampus independence, a phenomenon known as systems memory reconsolidation. Our neural model based on synaptic plasticity and stability accounts for a range of findings from the systems consolidation and reconsolidation literature. See the abstract and URL under PUBLICATIONS / Memory.
- Our paper modeling Neanderthal replacement by anatomically modern humans was published in June 2019 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. A current controversy is whether this replacement was caused by differential fitness or pure random drift. Our stochastic simulations and math model strongly support the differential-fitness explanation. Pure drift is too slow, too uncertain, and incorrectly predicts Neanderthal incursions into Africa. See the abstract and URL under PUBLICATIONS / Evolution.
- Peter Helfer's paper on a molecular-level model of memory reconsolidation was published in May in PLOS Computational Biology (Helfer & Shultz, 2018). The first submission was positively regarded by all three reviewers. Reviewer #3 concluded: “This is a very elegant paper presenting a computational model of pathways involved in late-LTP to see whether they can create the stability required to generate persistent memories. This is a beautiful model, providing a valuable addition to the synaptic modelling landscape. ” See the abstract and URL under PUBLICATIONS / Memory.