Event-related potentials reveal the relations between feature representations at different levels of abstraction Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • In this paper, we use behavioural methods and event-related potentials (ERPs) to explore the relations between informational and instantiated features, as well as the relation between feature abstraction and rule type. Participants are trained to categorize two species of fictitious animals and then identify perceptually novel exemplars. Critically, two groups are given a perfectly predictive counting rule that, according to Hannah and Brooks (2009. Featuring familiarity: How a familiar feature instantiation influences categorization. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue Canadienne de Psychologie ExpĂ©rimentale, 63, 263-275. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1037/a0017919), should orient them to using abstract informational features when categorizing the novel transfer items. A third group is taught a feature list rule, which should orient them to using detailed instantiated features. One counting-rule group were taught their rule before any exposure to the actual stimuli, and the other immediately after training, having learned the instantiations first. The feature-list group were also taught their rule after training. The ERP results suggest that at test, the two counting-rule groups processed items differently, despite their identical rule. This not only supports the distinction that informational and instantiated features are qualitatively different feature representations, but also implies that rules can readily operate over concrete inputs, in contradiction to traditional approaches that assume that rules necessarily act on abstract inputs.

publication date

  • November 2016

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