The Dynamics of Exemplar and Prototype Representations Depend on Environmental Statistics

Arjun Devraj, Qiong Zhang, Thomas L. Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

How people represent categories—and how those representations change over time—is a basic question about human cognition. Previous research has suggested that people categorize objects by comparing them to category prototypes in early stages of learning but use strategies that consider the individual exemplars within each category in later stages. However, many category learning experiments do not accurately reflect the environmental statistics of the real world, where the probability that we encounter an object changes over time. Our goal in this study was to introduce memory constraints by presenting each stimulus at intervals corresponding to the power-law function of memory decay. Since the exemplar model relies on the individual’s ability to store and retrieve previously seen exemplars, we hypothesized that adding memory constraints that better reflect real environments would favor the exemplar model more early on compared with later. Confirming our hypothesis, the results illustrate that under realistic environmental statistics with memory constraints, the exemplar model’s advantage over the the prototype model decreases over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages174-180
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2021
Event43rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Comparative Cognition: Animal Minds, CogSci 2021 - Virtual, Online, Austria
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

Conference

Conference43rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Comparative Cognition: Animal Minds, CogSci 2021
Country/TerritoryAustria
CityVirtual, Online
Period7/26/217/29/21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction

Keywords

  • category learning
  • environmental statistics
  • exemplar model
  • memory decay
  • prototype model

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