Compositional reasoning in early childhood

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Compositional " language of thought " models have recently been proposed to ac-count for a wide range of children's conceptual and linguistic learning. The present work aims to evaluate one of the most basic assumptions of these models: children should have an ability to represent and compose functions. We show that 3.5-4.5 year olds are able to predictively compose two novel functions at significantly above chance levels, even without any explicit training or feedback on the composition itself. We take this as evidence that children at this age possess some capacity for compositionality, consistent with models that make this ability explicit, and providing an empirical challenge to those that do not.




Piantadosi, S., & Aslin, R. (2016). Compositional reasoning in early childhood. PLoS ONE, 11(9).

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