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Article

Nameability of spatial locations and category learning in children

The Russian Journal of Cognitive Science. 2019. Vol. 6. No. 3. P. 23-30.
Zherdeva M., Kotova T., Kotov A. A.

What is the relationship between the mental lexicon and categorization? Many studies show that the names of objects speed up category learning. Our previous experiment demonstrated that the names of an object feature’s location also help while learning rules of categorization. In the present experiment, we evaluated the manifestation of this effect in ontogenesis, having compared the process of development of new concepts in 7- and 9-year-old children. Participants were supposed to learn to distinguish between two groups of aliens by signs on the foot. We varied the location of signs on the silhouette of the foot. In the high nameability condition, signs were located in places on a foot silhouette that were more nameable (e.g., “heel”). In the low nameability condition, signs were located in places without common names (e.g., “Achilles’ tendon”). The category rule included relevant places for signs. We found that 9-year-old participants were more successful in learning new categories in the high nameability condition than in the low nameability condition. However, 7-year-old participants did not demonstrate differences in the two conditions. These results are discussed in relation to the development of the ability to form new categories in the course of ontogenesis.