Perceptual dimensions influence auditory category learning

  • Casey L. Roark
  • Lori L. HoltEmail author
Perceptual/Cognitive Constraints on the Structure of Speech Communication: In Honor of Randy Diehl


Human category learning appears to be supported by dual learning systems. Previous research indicates the engagement of distinct neural systems in learning categories that require selective attention to dimensions versus those that require integration across dimensions. This evidence has largely come from studies of learning across perceptually separable visual dimensions, but recent research has applied dual system models to understanding auditory and speech categorization. Since differential engagement of the dual learning systems is closely related to selective attention to input dimensions, it may be important that acoustic dimensions are quite often perceptually integral and difficult to attend to selectively. We investigated this issue across artificial auditory categories defined by center frequency and modulation frequency acoustic dimensions. Learners demonstrated a bias to integrate across the dimensions, rather than to selectively attend, and the bias specifically reflected a positive correlation between the dimensions. Further, we found that the acoustic dimensions did not equivalently contribute to categorization decisions. These results demonstrate the need to reconsider the assumption that the orthogonal input dimensions used in designing an experiment are indeed orthogonal in perceptual space as there are important implications for category learning.


Categorization Perceptual categorization and identification Audition 


Author Note

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01DC004674, T32-DC011499). The authors thank Christi Gomez for support in testing human participants.


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCarnegie Mellon University, and the Center for the Neural Basis of CognitionPittsburghUSA

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