Perceptual Category Learning: Similarity and Differences Between Children and Adults

Rahel RabiThe University of Western Ontario
John Paul MindaThe University of Western Ontario

Abstract

Studies of category learning have supported the idea that people rely on at least two cognitive systems when learning categories. A verbally-mediated system is best suited for learning rule-based categories, and a nonverbal system is best suited for learning categories not defined by a rule. To examine the cognitive systems involved in categorization, two experiments explored developmental differences in perceptual category learning. In Experiment 1, children and adults were asked to learn a set of categories consisting of stimuli equated on feature salience. A single-feature rule or overall similarity would allow for perfect performance. We found that adults made significantly more rule-based responses to the test stimuli than did children. Experiment 2 examined non-rule-based category learning by having children and adults complete a prototype abstraction task. Children showed evidence of prototype abstraction, with many children showing a similar pattern of responding to adults. Results are discussed within the COVIS framework.

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Perceptual Category Learning: Similarity and Differences Between Children and Adults (1.1 MB)



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