Categorization and concept formation in human infants

Barbara A. Younger

in The Making of Human Concepts

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199549221
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191724152 | DOI:
Categorization and concept formation in human infants

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This chapter reviews the literature on the categorization abilities of human infants. It begins with a discussion of core processes yielding structured category representations in infancy. It then turns to the content of infants' category representations, with an emphasis of the level of inclusiveness of infants' object categories. Next comes an issue that is perhaps unique to the human infant literature, arising to some degree from the methods used to assess categorization in young infants. Are the category representations revealed in studies of categorization represented a priori in the mind of the infant (and brought to bear on the task at hand), or are category representations formed or ‘trained’ in the context of the task? Much of the evidence presented in the chapter suggests that infant's early category representations are perceptually grounded (thus, easily supported by associative similarity-based learning). The chapter concludes by addressing the relationship between the infant's early similarity-based representations and more mature concepts.

Keywords: categorization; infancy; structured category representations; concept formation

Chapter.  9580 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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