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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2008 May;137(2):390-401. doi: 10.1037/0096-3445.137.2.390.

Prototype abstraction by monkeys (Macaca mulatta).

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA. psysmith@buffalo.edu

Abstract

The authors analyze the shape categorization of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and the role of prototype- and exemplar-based comparison processes in monkeys' category learning. Prototype and exemplar theories make contrasting predictions regarding performance on the Posner-Homa dot-distortion categorization task. Prototype theory--which presumes that participants refer to-be-categorized items to a representation near the category's center (the prototype)--predicts steep typicality gradients and large prototype-enhancement effects. Exemplar theory--which presumes that participants refer to-be-categorized items to memorized training exemplars-predicts flat typicality gradients and small prototype-enhancement effects. Across many categorization tasks that, for the first time, assayed monkeys' dot-distortion categorization, monkeys showed steep typicality gradients and large prototype-enhancement effects. These results suggest that monkeys--like humans--refer to-be-categorized items to a prototype-like representation near the category's center rather than to a set of memorized training exemplars.

PMID:
18473665
DOI:
10.1037/0096-3445.137.2.390
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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