[CaBSSem] CaBSSem today: Tanaka on individual diffs in learning and retention

Stephen Lindsay slindsay at uvic.ca
Fri Nov 4 09:21:32 PDT 2022

The Cognition and Brain Science Seminar (CaBSSem) today from 2:30 in the Psychology Reading Room (Cornett A228) features our own Jim Tanaka speaking on "Individual differences in object category learning and retention: Steep versus shallow learners" (abstract below).  Please consider participating in this intellectual community.

Many attend FTF, but we also livestream the sessions at


Meeting ID: 848 3816 6840  Password: 982785

For UVic students/faculty, best practice is to launch the Zoom app and then click "Sign in with SSO" so that you access the call from the UVic Zoom.

Schedule at https://onlineacademiccommunity.uvic.ca/lindsaylab/open-science/ .   If you would like to host a session of cabssem please email me.  Dates assigned on a first-come/first-served basis.

Hope to see you Friday

Abstract:  What is the connection between category learning and category retention? In category training studies, it is assumed that once participants are trained to a specified criterion, they are equivalent in their categorization abilities. However, little work has examined how individual differences in the rate of category acquisition might affect the retention of category knowledge in the post-acquisition phase. In this study, we investigate the initial trainability of participants as a predictor of their ability to retain category knowledge. In Phase 1 of the study, participants were trained to classify images of warblers into one of four species categories (Magnolia, Cape May, Prairie, Townsend). Training continued until participants achieved a 90% accuracy criterion. Multilevel modeling was used to characterize participants as having either a "steep" or "shallow" acquisition slope. The slopes were computed based on the learner's initial baseline performance in the first block of learning trials and the number of trials required to reach the 90% criterion. Subsequently, in Phase 2 of the study, participants were asked to categorize new images of the four warbler species. Their category abilities were tested at three time points: immediately, 1 day and 2 days after category training. The key result was that relative to the original 90% training criterion, steep learners improved their categorization performance to 97%. In contrast, the category performance of the shallow learners declined to 80% - below the original training criterion of 90%. Results show that category learning and category retention are intimately linked, where the rate by which someone acquires a perceptual category predicts how they will retain category knowledge over time. Adopting an individual differences perspective, these findings suggest that visual category learning may be a stable, trait-like characteristic that measures a person's ability to acquire and retain category knowledge

D. Stephen Lindsay, Ph.D
Professor and Chair
Department of Psychology
University of Victoria
Pronouns: He/him

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