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Learning and the Infant Mind$
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Amanda Woodward and Amy Needham

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195301151

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195301151.001.0001

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How Infants Learn Categories

How Infants Learn Categories

(p.144) 6 How Infants Learn Categories
Learning and the Infant Mind

Lisa M. Oakes

Jessica S. Horst

Kristine A. Kovack-Lesh

Sammy Perone

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on how infants learn categories in familiarization and habituation tasks — a context that provides both deep understanding into the processes of categorization and mimics many of infants' real-life encounters with objects in important ways. Five specific questions about how infants learn categories are addressed: (1) Is innate/previously acquired structure required to explain learning? (2) Which aspects of the environment support learning? (3) What kinds of learning processes are evident? Are these specific to a domain, or more general? Do they change with development? (4) What is the nature of the representations derived from learning? (5) How does previous learning generalize to new instances? It is argued that infants' performance in familiarization tasks should be seen not as a means of simply tapping the knowledge infants have acquired outside the laboratory, but also as a means of tapping how infants learn information given that existing knowledge.

Keywords:   infants, infant learning, categorization, knowledge, familiarization, habituation

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