I'm trying to understand how the idea of what a thing is originates in humans.
For example, in computer science, it is possible to know what an object is and what it does, by examining its "parent/ancestor" objects with concepts of inheritance:
In object-oriented programming (OOP), inheritance is a way to reuse code of existing objects, or to establish a subtype from an existing object
and polymorphism, where objects may share similar function:
Subtype polymorphism, often referred to as simply polymorphism in the context of object-oriented programming, is the ability to create a variable, a function, or an object that has more than one form. In principle, polymorphism can arise in other computing contexts and shares important similarities with the concept of degeneracy in biology
What makes me interested in this is that human children do not learn all words at once - there's a slow, but steady exposure to new stimuli, which are quantified, remembered and become available as concepts and words. The exact order of exposure is unknown, but if I remember correctly, most people know about 20000 words, and use about 6000 in daily interactions.
For example, a child has never seen a potato. A child sees a potato for the first time. A child has neither an idea nor a word for a potato. Now the child's brain has to create an idea of what a potato is.
The question: When a child is exposed to a new stimuli, as in the example above, does the child's brain:
- create a brand new representation of an object
- or does a person's brain modify and re-purpose the "closest matching" idea and add extra attributes to it? (a potato looks like a brown rock)
In other words, has there been any research that found evidence for case 2: a "common ancestor" for ideas and objects within a person's mind? (if a person forgets "rock", then the person also forgets "potato").
I don't know where to begin a search for the answer. Are there some keywords that I can use? Maybe scholarly articles on cases of unusually high working memory capacity for related objects?