Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/24869
Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Sequence Memory Constraints Give Rise to Language-Like Structure through Iterated Learning
Authors: Cornish, Hannah
Dale, Rick
Kirby, Simon
Christiansen, Morten H
Contact Email: h.cornish@gmail.com
Issue Date: 24-Jan-2017
Citation: Cornish H, Dale R, Kirby S & Christiansen MH (2017) Sequence Memory Constraints Give Rise to Language-Like Structure through Iterated Learning, PLoS ONE, 12 (1), Art. No.: e0168532.
Abstract: Human language is composed of sequences of reusable elements. The origins of the sequential structure of language is a hotly debated topic in evolutionary linguistics. In this paper, we show that sets of sequences with language-like statistical properties can emerge from a process of cultural evolution under pressure from chunk-based memory constraints. We employ a novel experimental task that is non-linguistic and non-communicative in nature, in which participants are trained on and later asked to recall a set of sequences one-by-one. Recalled sequences from one participant become training data for the next participant. In this way, we simulate cultural evolution in the laboratory. Our results show a cumulative increase in structure, and by comparing this structure to data from existing linguistic corpora, we demonstrate a close parallel between the sets of sequences that emerge in our experiment and those seen in natural language.
DOI Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168532
Rights: © 2017 Cornish et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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