Is symmetry inference an essential component of language?
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, 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.
KeywordsAssociative learning Symmetry inference Preverbal humans Language evolution
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