The signature-testing approach to mapping biological and artificial intelligences

Alex H. Taylor*, Amalia P.M. Bastos, Rachael L. Brown, Colin Allen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Making inferences from behaviour to cognition is problematic due to a many-to-one mapping problem, in which any one behaviour can be generated by multiple possible cognitive processes. Attempts to cross this inferential gap when comparing human intelligence to that of animals or machines can generate great debate. Here, we discuss the challenges of making comparisons using ‘success-testing’ approaches and call attention to an alternate experimental framework, the ‘signature-testing’ approach. Signature testing places the search for information-processing errors, biases, and other patterns centre stage, rather than focussing predominantly on problem-solving success. We highlight current research on both biological and artificial intelligence that fits within this framework and is creating proactive research programs that make strong inferences about the similarities and differences between the content of human, animal, and machine minds.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)738-750
    Number of pages13
    JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


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