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Proceedings Paper

Negative transfer problem in neural networks
Author(s): Adel M. Abunawass
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Paper Abstract

Harlow, 1949, observed that when human subjects were trained to perform simple discrimination tasks over a sequence of successive training sessions (trials), their performance improved as a function of the successive sessions. Harlow called this phenomena `learning-to- learn.' The subjects acquired knowledge and improved their ability to learn in future training sessions. It seems that previous training sessions contribute positively to the current one. Abunawass & Maki, 1989, observed that when a neural network (using the back-propagation model) is trained over successive sessions, the performance and learning ability of the network degrade as a function of the training sessions. In some cases this leads to a complete paralysis of the network. Abunawass & Maki called this phenomena the `negative transfer' problem, since previous training sessions contribute negatively to the current one. The effect of the negative transfer problem is in clear contradiction to that reported by Harlow on human subjects. Since the ability to model human cognition and learning is one of the most important goals (and claims) of neural networks, the negative transfer problem represents a clear limitation to this ability. This paper describes a new neural network sequential learning model known as Adaptive Memory Consolidation. In this model the network uses its past learning experience to enhance its future learning ability. Adaptive Memory Consolidation has led to the elimination and reversal of the effect of the negative transfer problem. Thus producing a `positive transfer' effect similar to Harlow's learning-to-learn phenomena.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 July 1992
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 1710, Science of Artificial Neural Networks, (1 July 1992); doi: 10.1117/12.140103
Show Author Affiliations
Adel M. Abunawass, Western Illinois Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1710:
Science of Artificial Neural Networks
Dennis W. Ruck, Editor(s)

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