Psychophysical and cognitive aspects of categorical perception:A critical overview

There are many entry points into the problem of categorization. Two particularly important ones are the so-called top-down and bottom-up approaches. Top-down approaches such as artificial intelligence begin with the symbolic names and descriptions for some categories already given; computer programs are written to manipulate the symbols. Cognitive modeling involves the further assumption that such symbol-interactions resemble the way our brains do categorization. An explicit expectation of the top-down approach is that it will eventually join with the bottom-up approach, which tries to model how the hardware of the brain works: sensory systems, motor systems and neural activity in general. The assumption is that the symbolic cognitive functions will be implemented in brain function and linked to the sense organs and the organs of movement in roughly the way a program is implemented in a computer, with its links to peripheral devices such as transducers and effectors.
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Jules Davidoff (2001). Language and Perceptual Categorisation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 5 (9):382-387.

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