Toward a memory model of operant behavior: A computer simulation

Richard Jason Fost, Fordham University


Scientific psychology has failed to integrate its most important theoretical systems, conspicuous in the division of psychological science into two discrete subdisciplines: a (structural) science of knowledge and a (functional) science of behavior (Tulving, 1983). The resolution of this schism requires "tightly reasoned, bridging theory" (Staats, 1987) to establish causal linkages across subdisciplinary boundaries. Toward that goal, a theoretical model was derived from structural memory theory, implemented within a computer simulation, and demonstrated to simulate 24 empirically documented operant behavior functions. The model incorporates sensory, short-term, long-term, episodic, and semantic memory structures. Symbolic content variables stored within these structures derive from Gestalt and Lewinian field theories, and include figure-ground, vector, and valence construct representations. Simulated behavior functions include shaping via successive approximations, stimulus control of multiple discrete behaviors, chained behaviors, intermittently reinforced response patterns, extinction, and recovery. Observation of simultaneous changes in memory variables and behavioral functions permits each to be interpreted in terms of the other, and establishes causal linkages across multiple levels of analysis to facilitate theoretical synthesis.

Subject Area

Behaviorial sciences|Computer science

Recommended Citation

Fost, Richard Jason, "Toward a memory model of operant behavior: A computer simulation" (1994). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9416666.