Unconscious structural knowledge of tonal symmetry: Tang poetry redefines limits of implicit learning

Consciousness and Cognition 21 (1):476-486 (2012)
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The study aims to help characterize the sort of structures about which people can acquire unconscious knowledge. It is already well established that people can implicitly learn n-grams and also repetition patterns. We explore the acquisition of unconscious structural knowledge of symmetry. Chinese Tang poetry uses a specific sort of mirror symmetry, an inversion rule with respect to the tones of characters in successive lines of verse. We show, using artificial poetry to control both n-gram structure and repetition patterns, that people can implicitly learn to discriminate inversions from non-inversions, presenting a challenge to existing models of implicit learning



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