Amnesic patients show superior generalization in category learning

Garret O'Connell, Catherine E. Myers, Ramona O. Hopkins, R. P. McLaren, Mark A. Gluck, Andy J. Wills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Generalization is the application of existing knowledge to novel situations. Questions remain about the precise role of the hippocampus in this facet of learning, but a connectionist model by Gluck and Myers (1993) predicts that generalization should be enhanced following hippocampal damage. Method: In a two-category learning task, a group of amnesic patients (n = 9) learned the training items to a similar level of accuracy as matched controls (n = 9). Both groups then classified new items at various levels of distortion. Results: The amnesic group showed significantly more accurate generalization to high-distortion novel items, a difference also present compared to a larger group of unmatched controls (n = 33). Conclusions: The model prediction of a broadening of generalization gradients in amnesia, at least for items near category boundaries, was supported by the results. Our study shows for the first time that amnesia can sometimes improve generalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-919
Number of pages5
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


  • Categorical learning
  • Gradient
  • Hippocampus
  • Lesion
  • Stimulus generalization

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