Categorical Perception as an Emergent Feature of General Perception
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Humans perceive linguistic phonemes categorically, that is, in distinct clusters rather than as continua. The same pattern of categorical perception (CP) has also been documented with a wide variety of other stimuli, including nonspeech sounds and faces. Although CP has often been assumed to be a distinct mode of perception, some studies have suggested that it is an emergent phenomenon that can occur with any general perceptual system. In this thesis I provide an overview of the research on CP, then examine findings on the factors which cause CP in humans and synthetic CP in simulated neural networks in order to address the hypothesis that categorical perception is merely a feature of general perception and suggest possibilities for future investigation.