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ERIC Number: EJ1055997
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jul
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
When Does Fading Enhance Perceptual Category Learning?
Pashler, Harold; Mozer, Michael C.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v39 n4 p1162-1173 Jul 2013
Training that uses exaggerated versions of a stimulus discrimination (fading) has sometimes been found to enhance category learning, mostly in studies involving animals and impaired populations. However, little is known about whether and when fading facilitates learning for typical individuals. This issue was explored in 7 experiments. In Experiments 1 and 2, observers discriminated stimuli based on a single sensory continuum (time duration and line length, respectively). Adaptive fading dramatically improved performance in training (unsurprisingly) but did not enhance learning as assessed in a final test. The same was true for nonadaptive linear fading (Experiment 3). However, when variation in length (predicting category membership) was embedded among other (category-irrelevant) variation, fading dramatically enhanced not only performance in training but also learning as assessed in a final test (Experiments 4 and 5). Fading also helped learners to acquire a color saturation discrimination amid category-irrelevant variation in hue and brightness, although this learning proved transitory after feedback was withdrawn (Experiment 7). Theoretical implications are discussed, and we argue that fading should have practical utility in naturalistic category learning tasks, which involve extremely high dimensional stimuli and many irrelevant dimensions.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Office of Naval Research (ONR); Institute of Education Sciences (ED); National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: 25684A; R305B070537; SBE- 0542013