Same items, different order: effects of temporal variability on infant categorization.
Mather E., Plunkett K.
How does variability between members of a category influence infants' category learning? We explore the impact of the order in which different items are sampled on category formation. Two groups of 10-months-olds were presented with a series of exemplars to be organized into a single category. In a low distance group, the order of presentation minimized the perceptual distance between consecutive exemplars. In a high distance group, the order of presentation maximized the distance between successive exemplars. At test, only infants in the High Distance condition reliably discriminated between the category prototype and an atypical exemplar. Hence, the order in which infants learnt about the exemplars impacted their categorization performance. Our findings demonstrate the importance of moment-to-moment variations in similarity during infants' category learning.