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Sheila Chase

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Ph.D., City University of New York


Department of Psychology
Hunter College, Room 608N
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Tel: (212) 772-5617

Link to The Chase Lab Webpage


Current Areas of Research:

     Our research deals with the manner in which information, primarily visual patterns, are processed, remembered and used as organisms adapt to the challenges of survival.  Through extensive work on the food seeking behavior of pigeons we have been able to describe, in quantitative detail, how stimuli reliably associated with motivationally significant outcomes of behavior are isolated from other potentially relevant stimuli and how such stimulus information is processed.  These processes are expressed in the form of a computer model developed by Eric G. Heinemann and Sheila Chase that has enabled us specify precisely the mechanisms hypothesized to underlie the observed behaviors.  We refer to our model as the Natural Intelligence Model (NIM) to differentiate it from models of artificial intelligence.  Unlike the latter we do not attempt to optimize a particular process but rather try to understand how these processes have evolved.  Working with pigeons has enabled us to take advantage of the extensive literature on the behavior of this species and, given our focus on visual information processing, their excellent vision.  Underlying our work is the assumption that, although important differences exist among species, there are fundamental similarities in how information is processed.  Studying these processes in pigeons, rather than humans, enables us to avoid the complexities imposed on these processes by verbal coding.  We believe that this approach will ultimately facilitate the creation of effective conditions for acquisition of information ranging from the development of algorithms for processing of information by artificial organisms to designing conditions that maximize effective information processing.


Selected Publications:

Donis, F., Chase, S. & Heinemann, E. G. (in press). Effects of identical context on visual pattern recognition by pigeons. Learning and Behavior.

Chase, S. & Heinemann, E. G. (2001). Exemplar memory and discrimination. In R. G. Cook (Ed.), Avian visual cognition [On-line]. View On-Line

Chase, S. (1997), “Concept formation” and categorization in pigeons. In Watanabe, S., & Chase, S. (Eds.). Pattern Recognition in Humans and Animals. Keio University Press, Kyoto, Japan.

Heinemann, E. G. & Chase, S. (1995), A quantitative model for brightness induction. Vision Research, 35, 2007-2020.