We group similar objects into categories, based on similarities in their form or in their function.  For example, we group Shih Tzus and Irish Wolfhounds into the same 'dog' category.  This allows us to transfer knowledge gained about one member of a category to other members - once we learn Shih Tzus bark, we know Irish Wolfhounds are also likely to bark (although probably not as much).  This ability to generalize knowledge is extremely powerful as it allows us to behave appropriately in new situations.  For example, when we meet a new type of dog, we can expect it will bark.

Our research aims to understand how the brain learns and uses categories.  This will form the foundation for developing smarter artificial intelligence agents that are able to generalize their knowledge to novel situations.


Related Publications

PFC Neurons Reflect Categorical Decisions about Ambiguous Stimuli

Roy JE, Buschman TJ, and Miller EK

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 2014. 26(6): 1283-91.

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Comparison of primate prefrontal and premotor cortex neuronal activity during visual categorization

Cromer JA, Roy JE, Buschman TJ and Miller EK

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 2011; 23 (11): 3355-3365.

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