Investigations into unsupervised category learning: the role of working memory in learning category structures

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Title: Investigations into unsupervised category learning: the role of working memory in learning category structures
Author: Hayes, Matthew Wood
Abstract: The present research explored the role of working memory (WM ) in unsupervised category learning , learning without an external tutor or even knowing that categories exist , by investigating its role using a pattern -sequence manipulation . A pattern -sequence manipulation compares learning when items from categories are presented together versus when the items are presented in random order . Experiment 1 extended the pattern -sequence manipulation to assess category knowledge separate from paired -associate learning . Participants performed equally well on new and studied items , supporting the hypothesis that the pattern -sequence manipulation results in the acquisition of category information , not simply memory for item -feature associations . Experiment 2 introduced a WM factor , administering the method used in Experiment 1 to a group of high and low WM span participants . There was reliable support for a role of WM span in the discovery and acquisition of category knowledge , but this role was different from the one hypothesized . The high WM span participants exhibited higher overall accuracies than the low WM span participants , but did not benefit more from the pattern -sequence effect than did the low WM span participants as predicted .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /9623
Date: 2007-08

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Hayes, Matthew Wood Investigations into unsupervised category learning: the role of working memory in learning category structures. Doctoral dissertation, Texas Tech University. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /9623 .

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