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recent musings…

May 18, 2010

This summer (August, 2010), I’ll be heading to Portland, OR, for the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. It is always a great conference – lots of interesting research to immerse myself in, lots of interesting people to chat with. At this year’s conference, I’ll get a chance to present some research I have been involved in the past few years. This line of research is examining category learning that occurs as people engage in a particular task within a novel domain. I began the line of research three years ago, collaborating with Jessie Birdwhistell – who is currently pursuing a doctorate in school psychology at the University of Kentucky. We have a more complete paper that we are writing together that will (hopefully) be ready for public consumption by the end of the summer – I’ll have new data in soon that should fill in a few gaps we had with our earlier write-ups of the study. Anyhow, here is the proceeding for the CogSci conference this summer.

CP CogSci 2010 final version

Here is the first paragraph of the paper in case you are not quite motivated enough to open the pdf version of the paper…

Prior experience underlies intelligent behavior – people learn through interactions with the environment what behaviors lead to successful outcomes and what ones do not. An important component of this is recognizing categories of events and items among those experiences, a process that leads to the acquisition of conceptual knowledge, knowledge of those categories. That knowledge can be used to categorize, communicate, reason, and problem solve at later points. A fundamental question then is how coherent categories of items are identified so that the conceptual knowledge can be appropriately applied. Theories of categorization address what ties together items within a category and subsequently coheres the conceptual organization that reflects those categories, and most theories rely on a notion of similarity for at least a component of that cohesion (Hahn & Ramscar, 2001). Thus, the question shifts to how this similarity is determined.

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