The effect of internal structure of categories on perception

Gureckis, T. M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2008).  The effect of internal structure of categories on perception. Proceedings of the Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society,(pp. 1876-1881). Washington, D.C.: Cognitive Science Society.

A novel study is presented that explores the effect that learning internally organized categories has on the ability to subsequently discriminate category members. The results demonstrate the classic categorical perception effect whereby discrimination of stimuli that belong to different categories is improved following training, while the ability to discriminate stimuli belonging to the same category is reduced. We further report a new within-category perceptual effect whereby category members that share the same category label but fall into different sub-clusters within that category are better discriminated than items that share the same category and cluster. The results show that learners are sensitive to multiple sources structure beyond simply the labels provided during supervised training. A computational model is presented to account for the results whereby multiple levels of encoding (i.e., at the item-, cluster-, and category- level) may simultaneously contribute to perception.

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