Multimodal Transfer of Repetition Patterns in Artificial Grammar Learning


Extending learned patterns to previously unseen ones is a key hallmark of complex cognition. This paper presents evidence that learners are able to generalize learned patterns to novel stimuli with very different surface properties within and across modalities. Using a statistical learning paradigm, adult learners were exposed to a repetition (reduplication) pattern in which the first element of a three-element sequence repeated (e.g., AB→AAB). The pattern was presented as either spoken repetition (e.g., bago, babago) or a non-linguistic visual analogue (i.e., repetition of non-nameable shapes). Learners showed significant transfer from a non-linguistic repetition pattern to a linguistic reduplication pattern, and vice versa. However, we found a small bias towards linguistic reduplication, as responses to linguistic patterns were numerically higher. This suggests that while learners are able to extend learned patterns to novel patterns in other domains, factors such as familiarity and naturalness may privilege linguistic patterns over non-linguistic analogues.

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