Complementary Brain Signals for Categorical Decisions


Apples come in various shapes, colors, and sizes, but humans can nonetheless easily distinguish them from other fruit (eg, peaches) or other round objects (eg, tennis balls). This capacity to assign complex and variable stimuli into discrete and meaningful categories is an essential cognitive function that dramatically reduces cognitive load, and enables agents to generalize their prior knowledge to novel exemplars. A long research tradition in Cognitive Science has studied how humans acquire such knowledge and learn to categorize unknown objects (Ashby and Maddox, 2011). One established finding from this literature is that category learning yields biases in perceptual sensitivity, whereby stimuli belonging to different categories can be better distinguished than stimuli belonging to the same category, even when stimuli vary along continuous features and the objective physical similarity is identical for pair

Journal of Neuroscience