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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2009 May;35(3):731-41. doi: 10.1037/a0015005.

Learning mode and exemplar sequencing in unsupervised category learning.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Institute for Nuroscience, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA. zeithamova@mail.utexas.edu

Abstract

Exemplar sequencing effects in incidental and intentional unsupervised category learning were investigated to illuminate how people form categories without an external teacher. Stimuli were perfectly separable into 2 categories based on 1 of 2 dimensions of variation. Sequencing of the first 20 training stimuli was manipulated. In the blocked condition, 10 Category A stimuli were followed by 10 Category B stimuli. In the intermixed condition, these 20 stimuli were ordered randomly. Experiment 1 revealed an interaction between learning mode and sequence, with better intentional learning for intermixed sequences but better incidental learning for blocked sequences. Experiment 2 showed that manipulating trial-to-trial variability along each dimension can impact intentional learning. Training sequences that emphasized variation along the category-relevant dimension resulted in better performance than sequences that emphasized variation along the category-irrelevant dimension. The results suggest that unsupervised category learning is influenced by the mode of learning and the order and nature of encountered exemplars.

PMID:
19379046
PMCID:
PMC2672374
DOI:
10.1037/a0015005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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