Is symmetry inference an essential component of language?


  • Chartier Thomas
  • Rey Arnaud


  • Associative learning
  • Symmetry inference
  • Preverbal humans

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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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