The basis of transfer in artificial grammar learning

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


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, and 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 and Vokey, 1991; Mathews and 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-263
Number of pages11
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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