The construction of perceptual and semantic features during category learning

Goldstone, R. L., Rogosky, B. J., Pevtzow, R., & Blair, M. (2017).  The construction of perceptual and semantic features during category learning.  In H. Cohen & C. Lefebvre (Eds.)  Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science.  (pp. 851-882).  Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Category learning not only depends upon perceptual and semantic representations; it also leads to the generation of these representations. We describe two series of experiments that demonstrate how categorization experience alters, rather than simply uses, descriptions of objects. In the first series, participants first learned to categorize objects on the basis of particular sets of line segments. Subsequently, participants were given a perceptual part/whole judgment task. Categorization training influenced participants’ part/whole judgments, indicating that whole objects were more likely to be broken down into parts that were relevant during categorization. In the second series, correlations were created or broken between semantic features of word concepts (e.g., ferocious vs. timid and group-oriented vs. solitary animals). The best transfer was found between category learning tasks that shared the same semantic organization of concepts. Together, the experiments support models of category learning that simultaneously create the elements of categorized objects’ descriptions and associate those elements with categories.

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