Humans are far better at categorizing unknown objects than computers.

Perception psychologists at Liebig University have investigated how they do this.

The researchers showed subjects an imaginary shape and asked them to draw new examples of the same kind on a tablet.

The brain creates models

Sasha Zoske

Sheet maker in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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According to team leader Roland Fleming, the images that emerged were not simply copies of the first object, but systematic variations.

Certain features of the original shape have been consistently retained to make it clear that the original creations belong to the same category.

Other parts have been distorted, removed, or jumbled up.

The drawings were then shown to other subjects.

They usually assigned the new creations to the same category as the original.

Apparently, when looking at an unfamiliar object, the brain forms a model of it that captures its peculiarities.

This model can then be used to recognize similar objects or to create one yourself.

Artificial intelligence can also compare images with each other, but is inferior to the brain when it comes to categorizing.

The Giessen psychologists write that it is unclear how long human creativity will maintain this lead.

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