Ways of featuring in object categorization

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):41-54 (1998)
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The origin of features from nonfeatural information is a problem that should concern all theories of object categorization and recognition, not just the flexible feature approach. In contrast to the idea that new features must originate from combinations of simpler fixed features, we argue that holistic features can be created from a direct imprinting on the visual medium. Furthermore, featural descriptions can emerge from processes that by themselves do not operate on feature detectors. Once acquired, features can be decomposed into component features if required by other categorizations. We therefore argue that it is not necessary to separate holistic and componential approaches to representations, because the latter is a development of the former. The requirements for representational flexibility outstrip the performance of any existing computational models, but specific mechanisms of feature creation are discussed and evaluated. Challenges for feature creation mechanisms are discussed together with the constraints (perceptual, statistical, functional, and task) they will need to satisfy.



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