Memory & Cognition

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 253–263

The basis of transfer in artificial grammar learning

  • Rebecca L. Gomez
  • Louann Gerken
  • Roger W. Schvaneveldt

DOI: 10.3758/BF03213804

Cite this article as:
Gomez, R.L., Gerken, L. & Schvaneveldt, R.W. Memory & Cognition (2000) 28: 253. doi:10.3758/BF03213804


In two experiments, we examined the extent to which knowledge of sequential dependencies and/or patterns of repeating elements is used during transfer in artificial grammar learning. According to one view of transfer, learners abstract the grammar’s sequential dependencies and then learn a mapping to new vocabulary at test (Dienes, Altmann, & Gao, 1999). Elements that are repeated have no special status on this view, and so a logical prediction is that learners should transfer as well after exposure to a grammar without repetitions as after exposure to a grammar with them. On another view, repetition structure is the very basis of transfer (Brooks & Vokey, 1991; Mathews & Roussel, 1997). Learners were trained on grammars with or without repeating elements to test these competing views. Learners demonstrated considerable knowledge of sequential dependencies in their training vocabulary but did not use such knowledge to transfer to a new vocabulary. Transfer only occurred in the presence of repetition structure, demonstrating this to be the basis of transfer.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca L. Gomez
    • 1
  • Louann Gerken
    • 2
  • Roger W. Schvaneveldt
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ArizonaTucson
  2. 2.New Mexico State UniversityLas Cruces
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, Ames HallJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore

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