Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Concept Learning

  • Rick ParenteEmail author
  • Maria St. Pierre
  • Grace-Anna Chaney
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1088


Abstraction; Conceptualization; Ideas; Notion; Schemas


A concept is a special combination of ideas that has a particular meaning (Hampton 1981, 1995; Lambert and Shanks 1997).

Current Knowledge

Concept learning underlies the processes of inference and reasoning (Li et al. 2015). Concepts derive from the integration of real-world entities with their purpose and everyday uses (Li et al. 2015). Children acquire their first concepts during the discovery language process that occurs between birth and age of 3. During that period of development, children start to recognize regularities in their world and begin to identify labels or symbols to represent them (Macnamara 1982). Thereafter, concept learning is governed by receptive language learning whereby new concepts are created by asking questions and expanding on acquired meanings (Novak and Canas 2010). Rules are concepts that direct behavior because there are consequences attached to them. A hypothesisrelates two or...

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Further Readings

  1. Bourne, L. E. (1963). Some factors affecting strategies used in problems of concept formation. American Journal of psychology, 75, 229–238.Google Scholar
  2. Bruner, J. S., Goodnow, J., & Austin, G. A. (1956). A study of thinking. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  3. Hampton, J. A. (1981). An investigation of the nature of abstract concepts. Memory and Cognition, 9, 149–156.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Hampton, J. A. (1995). Psychological representation of concepts. In M. A. Comway (Ed.), Cognitive models of memory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Hunt, R. R., & Ellis, H. C. (2003). Fundamentals of cognitive psychology. Madison: Brown & Benchmark.Google Scholar
  6. Lamberts, K., & Shanks, D. (Eds.). (1997). Knowledge, concepts, and categories. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  7. Li, J., Mei, C., Xu, W., & Qian, Y. (2015). Concept learning via granular computing: A cognitive viewpoint. Information Sciences, 298447–298467.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ins.2014.12.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Macnamara, J. (1982). Names for things: A study of human learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Medin, D. L. (1989). Concepts and conceptual structure. American Psychologist, 44, 1469–1481.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Mervis, C. B., & Rosch, E. (1981). Categorization of natural objects. Annual Review of Psychology, 32, 89–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Nisbett, R. E. (Ed.). (1993). Rules for reasoning. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  12. Novak, J. D., & Cañas, A. J. (2010). A teoria subjacente aos mapas conceituais e como elabora-los e USA- los. Revista Práxis Educativa, 5(1), 9–29. Website for the reference above (in English) http://cmap.ihmc.us/Publications/researchPapers/theorycmaps/TheoryunderlyingConceptMaps.bck-11-01-06.htm.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Smith, E. E. (1990). Categorization. In D. N. Osherson & E. E. Smith (Eds.), Thinking: An invitation to cognitive science (Vol. 3, pp 33–53). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  14. Smith, E. E., & Medin, D. L. (1981). Categories and concepts. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Wason, P. C. (1960). On the failure to eliminate hypotheses in a conceptual task. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 12, 129–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rick Parente
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria St. Pierre
    • 1
  • Grace-Anna Chaney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTowson UniversityTowsonUSA