Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

Cognitive mechanisms of serially organized behavior  

Ordinal relationships, or the concept of establishing order, rank, or position in a series (e.g., first, second, third), exert a pervasive influence on behavior. Studies in humans and animals have shown that a non-linguistic basis may underlie such serial learning, and the proposed research will advance understanding of the representation of order in humans and monkeys. The studies will use a variety of proven methods for training monkeys to execute lists composed of arbitrary stimuli and stimuli that can be characterized as inherently ordered. In one task, for example, the subjects must learn to generate a representation of an entire sequence and their current position in that sequence as they move from item to item. In another task using transitive inference (inferential reasoning), subjects are rewarded when they choose the correct item from a pair of stimuli to establish an order for the series of items. They are then tested on their ability to infer the correct item from pairs of non-adjacent items. The hypothesis is that the nonverbal representation of an ordinal relationship can be transferred between the ordinal (ordering) tasks tested in these experiments (spatial, numerical, psychophysical, serial, or transitive discrimination tasks). The results may have particular implication for developing nonverbal diagnostic tools for autistic children. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $349,715.00
Current Award Period 2008-2012
Project Number 5R01MH081153-03
Principal Investigator Terrace, Herbert
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Cognitive Studies
Strategic Plan Objective 2O. Not specific to Question 2 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution Columbia University
State/Country New York
Web Link 1 Cognitive mechanisms of serially organized behavior (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects Cognitive mechanisms of serially organized behavior | $306,785.00 | 2009 | 5R01MH081153-02
Cognitive mechanisms of serially organized behavior | $307,187.00 | 2008 | R01MH081153-01A1
Cognitive mechanisms of serially organized behavior (supplement) | $25,029.00 | 2010 | 3R01MH081153-02S1