Distributional Information Shapes Infants' Categorization of Objects

Caroline Junge*, Rianne van Rooijen, Maartje Raijmakers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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While distributional learning has been successfully demonstrated for auditory categorization, this study tests whether this mechanism also applies to object categorization: Ten-month-olds (n = 38) were familiarized with either a unimodal or bimodal distribution of a visual continuum. Using automatic eye tracking, we assessed categorization through the alternating/nonalternating paradigm. For infants in the bimodal condition, their average dwell time was larger for alternating trials than for nonalternating trials, while infants in the unimodal condition initially looked equally long at both types of trials. This group difference suggests that the shape of frequency distribution bears on the number of categories that infants construct from a continuum. Later in test, all infants show this alternating preference. We conclude that categorization is a flexible process, continuously adjusting itself to additional input.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-926
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Early online date6 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


This research was funded by the research priority program Amsterdam Brain & Cognition of the University of Amsterdam and a personal VENI grant (016.154.051) from the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), awarded to CJ. The authors would like to thank parents and infants for their cooperation. Part of this research was earlier presented as a poster at the XIX Biannual International Conference on Infant Studies, July 2014, Berlin, Germany. The authors confirm that there are no conflicts of interests.

FundersFunder number
Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research
Universiteit van Amsterdam016.154.051
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek


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