Simple rules can explain discrimination of putative recursive syntactic structures by a songbird species

  title={Simple rules can explain discrimination of putative recursive syntactic structures by a songbird species},
  author={Caroline A A van Heijningen and J. de Visser and Willem H. Zuidema and C. Ten Cate},
  journal={Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences},
  pages={20538 - 20543}
According to a controversial hypothesis, a characteristic unique to human language is recursion. Contradicting this hypothesis, it has been claimed that the starling, one of the two animal species tested for this ability to date, is able to distinguish acoustic stimuli based on the presence or absence of a center-embedded recursive structure. In our experiment we show that another songbird species, the zebra finch, can also discriminate between artificial song stimuli with these structures… Expand
Rule learning by zebra finches in an artificial grammar learning task: which rule?
Songbirds possess the spontaneous ability to discriminate syntactic rules
Budgerigars and zebra finches differ in how they generalize in an artificial grammar learning experiment
Artificial grammar learning in zebra finches and human adults: XYX versus XXY
Revisiting the syntactic abilities of non-human animals: natural vocalizations and artificial grammar learning
  • C. Ten Cate, K. Okanoya
  • Computer Science, Medicine
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2012
Rules, rhythm and grouping: auditory pattern perception by birds
What do animals learn in artificial grammar studies?


Recursive syntactic pattern learning by songbirds
Song discrimination learning in zebra finches induces highly divergent responses to novel songs
Does the mastery of center-embedded linguistic structures distinguish humans from nonhuman primates?
Language: Startling starlings
The faculty of language: what's special about it?
A comparative study of the behavioral deficits following lesions of various parts of the zebra finch song system: implications for vocal learning
  • C. Scharff, F. Nottebohm
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
  • 1991
Unusual phonation, covarying song characteristics and song preferences in female zebra finches
Computational Constraints on Syntactic Processing in a Nonhuman Primate