Cognitive Processing

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

On the learning difficulty of visual and auditory modal concepts: Evidence for a single processing system

  • Ronaldo Vigo
  • Karina-Mikayla C. Doan
  • Charles A. Doan
  • Shannon Pinegar


The logic operators (e.g., “and,” “or,” “if, then”) play a fundamental role in concept formation, syntactic construction, semantic expression, and deductive reasoning. In spite of this very general and basic role, there are relatively few studies in the literature that focus on their conceptual nature. In the current investigation, we examine, for the first time, the learning difficulty experienced by observers in classifying members belonging to these primitive “modal concepts” instantiated with sets of acoustic and visual stimuli. We report results from two categorization experiments that suggest the acquisition of acoustic and visual modal concepts is achieved by the same general cognitive mechanism. Additionally, we attempt to account for these results with two models of concept learning difficulty: the generalized invariance structure theory model (Vigo in Cognition 129(1):138–162, 2013, Mathematical principles of human conceptual behavior, Routledge, New York, 2014) and the generalized context model (Nosofsky in J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 10(1):104–114, 1984, J Exp Psychol 115(1):39–57, 1986).


Concept learning Auditory concepts Logic operators Categorization behavior 

Supplementary material

10339_2017_840_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (46 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 45 kb)


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronaldo Vigo
    • 1
  • Karina-Mikayla C. Doan
    • 1
  • Charles A. Doan
    • 1
  • Shannon Pinegar
    • 2
  1. 1.Consortium for the Advancement of Cognitive Science, Department of PsychologyOhio UniversityAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyBaruch CollegeNew YorkUSA

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