What is automatized during perceptual categorization?

TitleWhat is automatized during perceptual categorization?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsRoeder, J. L., & Ashby F. G.
Date Published2016 Sep
KeywordsAssociation Learning, Concept Formation, Humans, Models, Neurological, Models, Psychological, Reaction Time, Visual Perception

An experiment is described that tested whether stimulus-response associations or an abstract rule are automatized during extensive practice at perceptual categorization. Twenty-seven participants each completed 12,300 trials of perceptual categorization, either on rule-based (RB) categories that could be learned explicitly or information-integration (II) categories that required procedural learning. Each participant practiced predominantly on a primary category structure, but every third session they switched to a secondary structure that used the same stimuli and responses. Half the stimuli retained their same response on the primary and secondary categories (the congruent stimuli) and half switched responses (the incongruent stimuli). Several results stood out. First, performance on the primary categories met the standard criteria of automaticity by the end of training. Second, for the primary categories in the RB condition, accuracy and response time (RT) were identical on congruent and incongruent stimuli. In contrast, for the primary II categories, accuracy was higher and RT was lower for congruent than for incongruent stimuli. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that rules are automatized in RB tasks, whereas stimulus-response associations are automatized in II tasks. A cognitive neuroscience theory is proposed that accounts for these results.

Alternate JournalCognition
PubMed ID27232521
PubMed Central IDPMC4939132
Grant ListR01 MH063760 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
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