Asymmetric interference in 3‐ to 4‐month‐olds' sequential category learning

Cognitive Science 26 (3):377-389 (2002)
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Abstract

Three‐ to 4‐month‐old infants show asymmetric exclusivity in the acquisition of cat and dog perceptual categories. The cat perceptual category excludes dog exemplars, but the dog perceptual category does not exclude cat exemplars. We describe a connectionist autoencoder model of perceptual categorization that shows the same asymmetries as infants. The model predicts the presence of asymmetric retroactive interference when infants acquire cat and dog categories sequentially. A subsequent experiment conducted with 3‐ to 4‐month‐olds verifies the predicted pattern of looking time behaviors. We argue that bottom‐up, associative learning systems with distributed representations are appropriate for modeling the operation of short‐term visual memory in early perceptual category learning.

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