Long-term priors constrain category learning in the context of short-term statistical regularities.

Academic Article


  • Cognitive systems face a constant tension of maintaining existing representations that have been fine-tuned to long-term input regularities and adapting representations to meet the needs of short-term input that may deviate from long-term norms. Systems must balance the stability of long-term representations with plasticity to accommodate novel contexts. We investigated the interaction between perceptual biases or priors acquired across the long-term and sensitivity to statistical regularities introduced in the short-term. Participants were first passively exposed to short-term acoustic regularities and then learned categories in a supervised training task that either conflicted or aligned with long-term perceptual priors. We found that the long-term priors had robust and pervasive impact on categorization behavior. In contrast, behavior was not influenced by the nature of the short-term passive exposure. These results demonstrate that perceptual priors place strong constraints on the course of learning and that short-term passive exposure to acoustic regularities has limited impact on directing subsequent category learning.
  • Authors

  • Roark, Casey
  • Holt, Lori L
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • October 2022
  • Published In


  • Audition
  • Category learning
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Perceptual priors
  • Statistical learning
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 35524011
  • Start Page

  • 1925
  • End Page

  • 1937
  • Volume

  • 29
  • Issue

  • 5