Learning nonadjacent dependencies: no need for algebraic-like computations.

Research paper by Pierre P Perruchet, Michael D MD Tyler, Nadine N Galland, Ronald R Peereman

Indexed on: 09 Dec '04Published on: 09 Dec '04Published in: Journal of experimental psychology. General


Is it possible to learn the relation between 2 nonadjacent events? M. Pena, L. L. Bonatti, M. Nespor, and J. Mehler (2002) claimed this to be possible, but only in conditions suggesting the involvement of algebraic-like computations. The present article reports simulation studies and experimental data showing that the observations on which Pena et al. grounded their reasoning were flawed by deep methodological inadequacies. When the invalid data are set aside, the available evidence fits exactly with the predictions of a theory relying on ubiquitous associative mechanisms. Because nonadjacent dependencies are frequent in natural language, this reappraisal has far-reaching implications for the current debate on the need for rule-based computations in human adaptation to complex structures.