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Categorical Perception

Categorical perception (CP) is a cognitive phenomenon through which a person’s perceptual system perceives sensory changes in a continuum of stimuli as discrete categories. Categorization by itself is a fundamental cognitive human activity that allows one to comprehend and predict events and objects in the world. This phenomenon points to the tendency humans have to understand the world through the categories they have shaped.

CP functions in the connection of human’s higher level conceptual and lower level perceptual systems. It is widely accepted that perception precedes conceptualization. In fact, people need the data brought to them by their perceptual systems in order to encode them into categories within their conceptual systems. However, CP reveals the existence of a bidirectional interplay between those systems.

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