The learning of categories: parallel brain systems for item memory and category knowledge

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Science  10 Dec 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5140, pp. 1747-1749
DOI: 10.1126/science.8259522


A fundamental question about cognition concerns how knowledge about a category is acquired through encounters with examples of the category. Amnesic patients and control subjects performed similarly at classifying novel patterns according to whether they belonged to the same category as a set of training patterns. In contrast, the amnesic patients were impaired at recognizing which dot patterns had been presented for training. Category learning appears to be independent of declarative (explicit) memory for training instances and independent of the brain structures essential for declarative memory that are damaged in amnesia. Knowledge about categories can be acquired implicitly by cumulating information from multiple examples.