Psychology 2135A/B Lecture Notes - Procedural Memory, Endel Tulving, Public Knowledge

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Published on 9 Nov 2011
Lecture 9 - Concepts and Categories
- Tulving distinguished semantic and episodic memory
- episodic memory is memory we have in virtue of being us; not public knowledge
- semantic memory is memory that we know in virtue of growing up in a culture; public
- theoretical distinction
- another theoretical distinction is procedural memory (Anderson)
- semantic memory becomes a procedural memory after further development
- also argued that when episodic memory loses source memory, it becomes semantic
- distinction between semantic and episodic is useful only when we can distinguish a memory;
has heuristic value but possibly may not be true
Detailed vs. Abstract Representations
- need both for survival
- we need detailed, highly-specific representations of objects e.g., locations, characteristics
- need different mental representations for different modality functions
- different grasps e.g., precision grasp (fingers), whole-hand grasp
- detailed representations emphasize differences
- make it easier to do certain actions directed toward the stimulus
- but also more difficult to associate the stimulus with other stimuli
- detailed representations may obscure important similarities between objects
- to learn lessons for future reference, we need less detailed, more abstract representations that
encode what is most significant and enduring about a stimulus
- detailed representations for transient characteristics; abstract for enduring ones
- abstract representations emphasize similarities between current stimulus and others
- allow us to generalize a lesson; make it easier to form associations with what we already
- the amount of detail in a representation influences how long it lasts in mind
- most abstract representation of an object is the name of the object
- less detail, longer lasting time
- very detailed representations only useful for planning and executing current behaviour;
any change makes detail worthless, can get in the way (interference)
- more exposure to aspects that remain constant; useful across situations
- Goodale & Milner (Two Visual Systems Hypothesis)
- two visual systems that evolved for different purposes
- dorsal system evolved for visual guidance of action (where is it)
- ventral system evolved for perception of objects (what is it)
- patient who lost ventral system but not dorsal system (things look cloudy, but can
precisely pick up things)
- ventral system says Ebbinghaus illusion has different sized circles; dorsal system was
immune to illusion and had same movement to picking up circles
- dorsal for detail; ventral to abstract
- argues dorsal is old (original purpose of vision); ventral is new
- abstract representations are familiar because appear across many situations; likely to use again
- concepts are representations that are more abstract, less detailed
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Concepts and Categories
- concepts are mental representations of some thing where much knowledge typically thought
relevant to that thing is stored
- categories are things in the world that is a class or group of similar things
- to some extent, structure of natural categories is given by world; some extent, it is impressed
upon the world by human cognition
- we can create categories when we need them
- Bruner, Goodnow, & Austin (1956)
- concepts allow us to generalize lessons
- concepts reduce complexity of the environment (not everything is a new thing)
- concepts provide a guide to appropriate action
- concepts make hierarchical knowledge available (knowledge on multiple levels e.g.,
dogs, animals, mammals)
- categorization is process of deciding which details matter and which do not
The Classical View (Not widely accepted)
- category membership is determined by a set of defining (necessary and sufficient) properties
- concept is not a representation of specific examples but a list of characteristics
- membership in a category is clear-cut
Problems with the Classical View
- no defining features for many natural kind categories e.g., what makes a game a game
- lists have many problems
- membership is not always clear-cut e.g., chair, when is one dead, alive, etc.
- typicality effect (graded membership)
- Eleanor Rosch report that people judge members of a category as differing in
"goodness" or typicality; typicality influences responses in the sentence verification task
- some members of a category are better members of a category than others e.g., sparrow
vs. chicken for bird category
- takes longer to say YES to chicken is a bird than sparrow is a bird
- difference in reaction time is a typicality effect
Alternative Views
Rosch's Hierarchical model
- categorical knowledge is organized in a hierarchy: subordinate, basic, superordinate
- this is a relation of containing e.g., superordinate contains basic things
- model is economical way to store information; only store information on highest level instead
of on every level
- basic level is level that we use to label something in ordinary case; level where the thing is very
similar to other things in that level; not too general and too specific; level that gives the most
- basic level is the one children learn first
- in basic level, things look like other things in same category but not like things in other
categories; this quality is not true at other levels
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