The case for infant colour categories

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Over the last four decades, evidence has accumulated to suggest that infants parse the continuum of colour into discrete categories. For example, multiple studies suggest that infants’ recognition memory treats discriminably different colours from the same category as if they are equivalent (e.g. Bornstein, Kessen and Weiskopf, 1976; Franklin and Davies, 2004). Despite the converging evidence, the existence of infant colour categories remains controversial. Here, we examine the evidence for and against the case for infant colour categories and consider alternative non-categorical explanations for prior findings. We also discuss a series of challenging theoretical questions on how infant colour categories relate to those in language, and on how infants could categorize colour in the absence of language.


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