Adaptation of perceptual and semantic features

Rogosky, B. J., & Goldstone, R. L. (2005). Adaptation of perceptual and semantic features. In L. A. Carlson & E. van der Zee (Eds.), Functional features in language and space: Insights from perception, categorization and development. (pp. 257-273). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

This chapter examines the role of feature in theories of concepts, perception, and language. The authors define features as psychological representations of properties in the world that can be processed independently of other properties and that are relevant to a task, such as categorization. They discuss the classic view of features as entities that do not change over time. They argue for an alternative view in which features are created and adapted according to the immediate goals and context of tasks, and over longer time periods in terms of perceptual and conceptual learning and development. The authors also distinguish pairs of dimensions in terms of whether the dimensions can be processed separately (i.e. either dimension can be attended independently of the other) or integrally (i.e. the dimensions cannot be processed independently). They present a study of the classification of linguistic stimuli according to rules based on semantic features (e.g. ferocity and socialness of animals). The results indicate that changes in the integral processing of the dimensions can be induced by tasks that favor the separate processing of one dimenion. The findings support the authors’ claim that, like perceptual features, semantic features can be adapted during learning.

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