We measured looking times and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to examine the cognitive and brain bases of perceptual category learning in 6-month-old infants. In Experiment 1, we showed that categorization and exemplar discrimination rely on different cortical processes. Specifically, the repetition of individual exemplars resulted in differential cortical processing at posterior channels at an early stage during object processing (100-300 ms), whereas discriminating amongst members of different categories was reflected in ERP differences over anterior cortical regions occurring later in time (300-500 ms) than the repetition effects. In Experiment 2, replicating the findings of Study 1, we found that infants engage the same cortical processes to categorize visual objects into basic level categories, regardless of whether a basic- (Bird vs. Fish) or globallevel is crossed (Birds vs. Cars). This pattern of findings is consistent with perceptual accounts of infant categorization (Quinn & Eimas, 1996) an
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