Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Science. 2004 Jan 16;303(5656):377-80.

Computational constraints on syntactic processing in a nonhuman primate.

Author information

  • 1School of Psychology, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AJ, Scotland. wtsf@st-andrews.ac.uk

Abstract

The capacity to generate a limitless range of meaningful expressions from a finite set of elements differentiates human language from other animal communication systems. Rule systems capable of generating an infinite set of outputs ("grammars") vary in generative power. The weakest possess only local organizational principles, with regularities limited to neighboring units. We used a familiarization/discrimination paradigm to demonstrate that monkeys can spontaneously master such grammars. However, human language entails more sophisticated grammars, incorporating hierarchical structure. Monkeys tested with the same methods, syllables, and sequence lengths were unable to master a grammar at this higher, "phrase structure grammar" level.

PMID:
14726592
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk