Learning and extrapolating a periodic function

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


How people learn continuous functional relationships remains a poorly understood capacity. In this article, I argue that the mere presence of nonmonotonic extrapolation of periodic functions neither threatens existing theories of function learning nor distinguishes between them. However, I show that merely learning periodic functions is extremely difficult. It is only when stimuli are presented numerically, rather than as numberless quantities, that participants learn anything like a periodic function. In addition, I show that even then, people do not regularly extrapolate periodically. The lesson is that careful methodologies will be required to understand a psychological capacity that is as idiosyncratic as the learning of complex functions appears to be.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)886-896
Number of pages11
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Function learning
  • Individual differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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