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What categorical induction variability reveals about typical and atypical development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 November 2020

Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT06269USA
Deborah FEIN
Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT06269USA
Letitia R. NAIGLES
Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT06269USA
*Corresponding author: Lisa C. Tecoulesco, Child Language Lab, Attn: Lisa Tecoulesco, 406 Babbidge Road, U-20, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-102. E-mail:


Categorical induction abilities are robust in typically developing (TD) preschoolers, while children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) frequently perform inconsistently on tasks asking for the transference of traits from a known category member to a new example based on shared category membership. Here, TD five-year-olds and six-year-olds with ASD participated in a categorical induction task; the TD children performed significantly better and more consistently than the children with ASD. Concurrent verbal and nonverbal tests were not significant correlates; however, the TD children's shape bias performance at two years of age was significantly positively predictive of categorical induction performance at age five. The shape bias, the tendency to extend a novel label to other objects of the same shape during word learning, appears linked with categorical induction ability in TD children, suggesting a common underlying skill and consistent developmental trajectory. Word learning and categorical induction appear uncoupled in children with ASD.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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