From Penguins to Parakeets: a Developmental Approach to Modelling Conceptual Prototypes


  • Joachim de Greeff
  • Paul Baxter
  • Rachel Wood
  • Tony Belpaeme



Concepts, prototypes, typicality, Conceptual Spaces, Distributed Associative and Interactive Memory, DDC: 004 (Data processing, computer science, computer systems)


The use of concepts is a fundamental capacity underlying complex, human-level cognition. A number of theories have explored the means of concept representation and their links to lower-level features, with one notable example being the Conceptual Spaces theory. While these provide an account for such essential functional processes as prototypes and typicality, it is not entirely clear how these aspects of human cognition can arise in a system undergoing continuous development - postulated to be a necessity from the developmental systems perspective. This paper seeks to establish the foundation of an approach to this question by showing that a distributed, associative and continuous development mechanism, founded on principles of biological memory, can achieve classification performance comparable to the Conceptual Spaces model. We show how qualitatively similar prototypes are formed by both systems when exposed to the same dataset, which illustrates how both models can account for the development of conceptual primitives.