An ERP analysis of recognition and categorization decisions in a prototype-distortion task


Background: Theories of categorization make different predictions about the underlying processes used to represent categories. Episodic theories suggest that categories are represented in memory by storing previously encountered exemplars in memory. Prototype theories suggest that categories are represented in the form of a prototype independently of memory. A number of studies that show dissociations between categorization and recognition are often cited as evidence for the prototype account. These dissociations have compared recognition judgements made to one set of items to categorization judgements to a different set of items making a clear interpretation difficult. Instead of using different stimuli for different tests this experiment compares the processes by which participants make decisions about category membership in a prototype-distortion task and with recognition decisions about the same set of stimuli by examining the Event Related Potentials (ERPs) associated with them. Method: Sixty-three participants were asked to make categorization or recognition decisions about stimuli that either formed an artificial category or that were category non-members. We examined the ERP components associated with both kinds of decision for pre-exposed and control participants. Conclusion: In contrast to studies using different items we observed no behavioural differences between the two kinds of decision; participants were equally able to distinguish category members from non-members, regardless of whether they were performing a recognition or categorisation judgement. Interestingly, this did not interact with prior-exposure. However, the ERP data demonstrated that the early visual evoked response that discriminated category members from nonmembers was modulated by which judgement participants performed and whether they had been pre-exposed to category members. We conclude from this that any differences between categorization and recognition reflect differences in the information that participants focus on in the stimuli to make the judgements at test, rather than any differences in encoding or process.

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Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: © 2010 Tunney et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Medicine(all),Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all),Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
Publication ISSN: 1932-6203
Last Modified: 02 May 2024 07:11
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2018 12:32
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PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2010-04-12
Authors: Tunney, Richard J. (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-4673-757X)
Fernie, Gordon
Astle, Duncan E.



Version: Published Version

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