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Infants' object category formation and use: Real‐world context effects on category use in object processing

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Three experiments investigated category formation based on real‐world encounters with objects and how that category knowledge functioned as a top‐down influence on infants' scene processing. 5‐month‐old infants received various experiences with exemplars of an object category and then were shown a display containing 2 adjacent novel objects, 1 of which was a novel exemplar of the category. If infants recognized this novel exemplar, they could use category information to determine the boundary between the 2 objects. Only infants who experienced object exemplars in situations that closely mimicked everyday infant experiences with objects successfully parsed the display. Results suggest that regularities in the contexts where infants experience similar objects help infants link their experiences and form object categories that can be used to segregate novel scenes. These results shed light on the real‐world process of infant knowledge base formation and on how infants use their knowledge base to segment real‐world scenes.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13506280444000706

Affiliations: Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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