Infant categorization as a dynamic process linked to memory

Althaus, Nadja ORCID:, Gliozzi, Valentina, Mayor, Julien and Plunkett, Kim (2020) Infant categorization as a dynamic process linked to memory. Royal Society Open Science, 7 (10). ISSN 2054-5703

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Recency effects are well documented in the adult and infant literature: recognition and recall memory are better for recently occurring events. We explore recency effects in infant categorization, which does not merely involve memory for individual items, but the formation of abstract category representations. We present a computational model of infant categorization that simulates category learning in 10-month-olds. The model predicts that recency effects outweigh previously reported order effects for the same stimuli. According to the model, infant behaviour at test should depend mainly on the identity of the most recent training item. We evaluate these predictions in a series of experiments with 10-month-old infants. Our results show that infant behaviour confirms the model’s prediction. In particular, at test infants exhibited a preference for a category outlier over the category average only if the final training item had been close to the average, rather than distant from it. Our results are consistent with a view of categorization as a highly dynamic process where the end result of category learning is not the overall average of all stimuli encountered, but rather a fluid representation that moves depending on moment-to-moment novelty. We argue that this is a desirable property of a flexible cognitive system that adapts rapidly to different contexts.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Developmental Science
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2020 00:20
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 07:21
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.200328

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