Journal of Logic, Language and Information

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 329–342 | Cite as

Aural Pattern Recognition Experiments and the Subregular Hierarchy



We explore the formal foundations of recent studies comparing aural pattern recognition capabilities of populations of human and non-human animals. To date, these experiments have focused on the boundary between the Regular and Context-Free stringsets. We argue that experiments directed at distinguishing capabilities with respect to the Subregular Hierarchy, which subdivides the class of Regular stringsets, are likely to provide better evidence about the distinctions between the cognitive mechanisms of humans and those of other species. Moreover, the classes of the Subregular Hierarchy have the advantage of fully abstract descriptive (model-theoretic) characterizations in addition to characterizations in more familiar grammar- and automata-theoretic terms. Because the descriptive characterizations make no assumptions about implementation, they provide a sound basis for drawing conclusions about potential cognitive mechanisms from the experimental results. We review the Subregular Hierarchy and provide a concrete set of principles for the design and interpretation of these experiments.


Sub-regular languages Local languages Artificial grammar learning Cognitive complexity Aural pattern recognition Mathematics of language 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceEarlham CollegeRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Linguistics and English LanguageUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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