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Is symmetry inference an essential component of language?

Summary

Symmetry inference—that is, spontaneously deriving the stimulus association B-A from A-B—was recently reported in preverbal infants (Kabdebon & Dehaene-Lambertz, 2019, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116[12], 5805–5810) and regarded as a “building block for human cognition.” Here, we argue that empirical evidence supporting this claim is insufficient, and that absence of symmetry inference in nonhuman animals should be reassessed.

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References

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Correspondence to Arnaud Rey.

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Chartier, T.F., Rey, A. Is symmetry inference an essential component of language?. Learn Behav (2020). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13420-019-00405-5

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Keywords

  • Associative learning
  • Symmetry inference
  • Preverbal humans
  • Language evolution