Basing categorization on individuals and events

Barsalou, L. W. , Huttenlocher, J. and Lamberts, K. (1998) Basing categorization on individuals and events. Cognitive Psychology, 36(3), pp. 203-272. (doi:10.1006/cogp.1998.0687) (PMID:9729903)

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Exemplar, prototype, and connectionist models typically assume that events constitute the basic unit of learning and representation in categorization. In these models, each learning event updates a statistical representation of a category independently of other learning events. An implication is that events involving the same individual affect learning independently and are not integrated into a single structure that represents the individual in an internal model of the world. A series of experiments demonstrates that human subjects track individuals across events, establish representations of them, and use these representations in categorization. These findings are consistent with “representationalism,” the view that an internal model of the world constitutes a physical level of representation in the brain, and that the brain does not simply capture the statistical properties of events in an undifferentiated dynamical system. Although categorization is an inherently statistical process that produces generalization, pattern completion, frequency effects, and adaptive learning, it is also an inherently representational process that establishes an internal model of the world. As a result, representational structures evolve in memory to track the histories of individuals, accumulate information about them, and simulate them in events.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barsalou, Professor Lawrence
Authors: Barsalou, L. W., Huttenlocher, J., and Lamberts, K.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Cognitive Psychology
Publisher:Academic Press
ISSN (Online):1095-5623

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