Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Yuko Munakata

Abstract

Selecting the appropriate response to a situation can be difficult for children. We investigated how abstract representations reduce these demands, by introducing subcategories into the Blocked Cyclic Naming (BCN) task. During BCN, participants name objects in two conditions: items from the same category and different categories. Significant naming delays occur in the same-category condition compared to the different-category condition, because activations of similar items in the same category create high competition, resulting in high selection demands when participants name items (Schnur et al., 2006). To introduce abstract representations, we labeled items on the exemplar and subcategory levels. Results showed a trend for children given subcategory labels to have improved selection, suggesting that the abstract representations reduced selection demands. In summary, selection plays a major role in daily life and the current study suggests that abstract representations may be able to help us understand the mechanism behind the selection process.

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