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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2008 Nov;34(6):1518-33. doi: 10.1037/a0013355.

Learning rule-described and non-rule-described categories: a comparison of children and adults.

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Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, Social Science Centre, London, Ontario, Canada.


Three experiments investigated the ability of 3-, 5-, and 8-year-old children as well as adults to learn sets of perceptual categories. Adults and children performed comparably on categories that could be learned by either a single-dimensional rule or by associative learning mechanisms. However, children showed poorer performance relative to adults in learning categories defined by a disjunctive rule and categories that were nonlinearly separable. Increasing the task demands for adults resulted in child-like performance on the disjunctive categories. Decreasing the task demands for children resulted in more adult-like performance on the disjunctive categories. The authors interpret these results within a multiple-systems approach to category learning and suggest that children have not fully developed the same explicit category learning system as adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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