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David Smith

Professor    
Education

Ph. D., University of Pennsylvania

Specializations

Comparative cognition, cognitive psychology, cognitive self-awareness, metacognition, categorization, declarative cognition

Biography

My research lies in the areas of cognitive psychology, comparative psychology, and neuroscience. With my colleagues, I inaugurated an influential area of inquiry in psychological research, demonstrating that some animals—for example, dolphins, macaques, chimpanzees—have capacities for uncertainty monitoring and mental-state awareness with strong parallels to those in humans. Our current research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

We also explore the cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience of human/animal category learning. We have made significant contributions to the central prototype-exemplar debate in categorization. We have advanced the psychological understanding of category rules in humans and explored whether animals use nonverbal rules in their categorization.

In related research, we are developing methods to study nonhuman primates’ declarative cognition. That is, can they report nonverbally the task approach they are taking, the dimension they are attending, the rule they are using. These methods may open a new window on their reflective mind. This research could pave the way for new approaches to studying animals’ explicit cognition and declarative consciousness.

We have also been funded by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct homeland-security research. In this area, we study the threat-recognition problem that X-ray screeners at airports face, and we analyze why the identification of threat items in X-ray scans of baggage remains a difficult perceptual problem.

Our research has a strong evolutionary component. It considers the roots and antecedents of human categorization in ways that illuminate human capacities and that sharply inform and correct psychological theorizing. In our work, animals are extraordinary behavioral ambassadors who have made many distinctive contributions.

Our research is closely associated with that of other colleagues at the Sonny Carter Life Sciences Laboratory and the Language Research Center. It is richly interdisciplinary with many opportunities for collaboration with other scientists and graduate or undergraduate students. It has international scope. These aspects of our research are well illustrated by a recent international consortium organized under the auspices of the European Science Foundation, funded by the national science foundations of many nations. In this consortium, psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers combined their efforts to explore the psychological underpinnings of metacognition and cognitive self-awareness.

Publications

Paul, E. J., Smith, J. D., Valentin, V. V., Barbey, A. K., & Ashby, F. G. (2015). Neural networks of the psychophysical uncertainty response. In press, Cortex.

Beran, M. J., Perdue, B. M., Futch, S. E., Smith, J. D., Evans, T. A., & Parrish, A. E. (2015). Go when you know: Chimpanzees’ confidence movements reflect their responses in a computerized memory task. In press, Cognition.

Zakrzewski, A. C., Perdue, B., Beran, M. J., Church, B. A., & Smith, J. D. (2014). Cashing Out: The decisional flexibility of uncertainty responses in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) and humans (Homo sapiens). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, 40, 490-501.

Smith, J. D., Couchman, J. J., & Beran, M. J. (2014). Animal metacognition: A tale of two comparative psychologies. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 128, 115-131.

Smith, J. D. (2014). Prototypes, exemplars, and the natural history of categorization. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 21, 312-331.

Smith, J. D., Boomer, J., Zakrzewski, A. C., Roeder, J., Church, B. A., & Ashby, F. G. (2014). Deferred feedback sharply dissociates implicit and explicit category learning. Psychological Science, 25, 447-457.

Smith, J. D., Flemming, T. M., Boomer, J., Beran, M. J., & Church, B. A. (2013). Fading perceptual resemblance: A path for macaques to conceptual matching? Cognition, 129, 598-614.

Smith, J. D., Coutinho, M. V. C., Church, B. A., & Beran, M. J. (2013). Executive-attentional uncertainty responses by rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Experimental Psychology: GeneraI, 142, 458-475.

Beran, M. J., Smith, J. D., & Perdue, B. M. (2013). Language-trained chimpanzees name what they have seen, but look first at what they have not seen. Psychological Science, 24, 660-666.

Smith, J. D., Berg, M. E., Cook, R. G., Boomer, J. Crossley, M. J., Murphy, M. S., Spiering, B., Beran, M. J., Church, B. A., Ashby, F. G., & Grace. R. C. (2012). Implicit and explicit categorization: A tale of four species. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 36, 2355-2369.

Smith, J. D., Couchman, J. J., & Beran, M. J. (2012). The highs and lows of theoretical interpretation in animal metacognition research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 367, 1297-1309.

Beran, M. J., & Smith, J. D. (2011). Information seeking by rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Cognition, 120, 90-105.

Smith, J. D., Ashby, F. G., Berg, M. E., Murphy, M. S., Spiering, B., Cook, R. G., & Grace, R. C. (2011). Pigeons’ categorization may be exclusively nonanalytic. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 18, 414-421.

Smith, J. D., Chapman, W. P., & Redford, J. S. (2010). Stages of category learning in monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and humans (Homo sapiens). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 36, 39-53.

Beran, M. J., Smith, J. D., Coutinho, M. V. C., Couchman, J. J., & Boomer, J. (2009). The psychological organization of “uncertainty” responses and “middle” responses: A dissociation in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 35, 371-381.

Smith, J. D., Redford, J. S., & Haas, S. M. (2008). Prototype abstraction by monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137, 390-401.

Smith, J. D. (2006). When parameters collide: A warning about cognitive models. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 13, 743-751.

Cook, R. G., & Smith, J. D. (2006). Stages of abstraction and exemplar memorization in pigeons’ category learning. Psychological Science, 17, 1059-1067.

Smith, J. D., Beran, M. J., Redford, J. S., & Washburn, D. A. (2006). Dissociating uncertainty states and reinforcement signals in the comparative study of metacognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135, 282-297.

Smith, J. D., & Washburn, D. A. (2005). Uncertainty monitoring and metacognition by animals. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 19-24.

Smith, J. D., Redford, J. S., Gent, L. C., & Washburn, D. A. (2005). Visual search and the collapse of categorization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 134, 443-460.

Smith, J. D., Redford, J. S., Washburn, D. A., & Taglialatela, L. A. (2005). Specific-token effects in screening tasks: Possible implications for aviation security. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, 1171-1185.

Smith, J. D., Minda, J. P., & Washburn, D. A. (2004). Category learning in rhesus monkeys: A study of the Shepard, Hovland, and Jenkins tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 398-414.

Smith, J. D., Shields, W. E., & Washburn, D. A. (2003). The comparative psychology of uncertainty monitoring and metacognition. The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 26, 317-373.

Smith, J. D. (2002). Exemplar theory’s predicted typicality gradient can be tested and disconfirmed. Psychological Science, 13, 437-442.

Smith, J. D., & Minda, J. P. (2001). Journey to the center of the category: The dissociation in amnesia between categorization and recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 27, 984-1002.

Smith, J. D., & Minda, J. P. (1998). Prototypes in the mist: The early epochs of category learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 24, 1411-1436.

Smith, J. D., Shields, W. E., Allendoerfer, K. R., and Washburn, D. A. (1998). Memory monitoring by animals and humans. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 127, 227-250.