Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #20
CE Offered: BACB

From Keller and Schoenfeld to Concepts and Categories

Saturday, May 23, 2015
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
Lila Cockrell Theatre (CC)
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
CE Instructor: Edward Wasserman, Ph.D.
Chair: Thomas Zentall (University of Kentucky)
EDWARD WASSERMAN (University of Iowa)
Edward A. Wasserman received his B.A. in psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles and his Ph.D. from Indiana University. He was an National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Sussex, England; a National Academy of Sciences Exchangee at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology, Moscow, USSR; a Visiting National Center for Scientific Research scientist at the Center for Research in Cognitive Neuroscience, Marseille, France; and a visiting professor at Keio University, Tokyo, Japan. His first and only academic position has been at the University of Iowa, where is Stuit Professor Experimental Psychology. He has served as president of the Comparative Cognition Society as well as president of Divisions 3 (Experimental Psychology) and 6 (Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Psychologists and was the 2011 recipient of the D. O. Hebb Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from Division 6 of APA. He has edited four volumes, most recently the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition with Thomas R. Zentall and How Animals See the World: Comparative Behavior, Biology, and Evolution of Vision with Olga F. Lazareva and Toru Shimizu. Dr. Wasserman has published extensively in the areas of comparative cognition and perception.

Keller and Schoenfeld (1950) offered a unique behavioral perspective on conceptualization and categorization, one that has proven to be dramatically out of step with mainstream cognitive theory. Keller and Schoenfeld's behavioral approach has inspired Dr. Wasserman's research into conceptualization and categorization by nonhuman animals. Using a system of arbitrary visual tokens, Dr. Wasserman and his colleagues have built ever-expanding nonverbal "vocabularies" in pigeons through a variety of different discrimination tasks. Pigeons have reliably categorized as many as 500 individual photographs from as many as 16 different human object categories, even without the benefit of seeing an item twice. Their formal model of categorization effectively embraces 25 years of empirical evidence as well as generates novel predictions for both pigeon and human categorization behavior. Comparative study should continue to elucidate the commonalities and disparities between human and nonhuman categorization behavior; it also should explicate the relationship between associative learning and categorization.

Keyword(s): categorization, comparative cognition, concept formation



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