Here you’ll find a list of papers to come out of our lab over the past decade. Please check CLE members’ websites for more complete bibliographies.


Claidière, N., Amedon, G. K. K., André, J. B., Kirby, S., Smith, K., Sperber, D., & Fagot, J. (2018). Convergent transformation and selection in cultural evolution. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39(2), 191-202. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2017.12.007

Winters, J., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (2018). Contextual predictability shapes signal autonomy. Cognition, 176, 15-30. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2018.03.002

Cuskley, C., Loreto, V., & Kirby, S. (2018). A Social Approach to Rule Dynamics Using an Agent-Based Model. Topics in Cognitive Science. doi:10.1111/tops.12327


Schouwstra, M. (2017). Temporal structure in emerging language: From natural data to silent gesture. Cognitive science, 41(S4), 928-940. doi:10.1111/cogs.12441

Truswell, R. (2017). Dendrophobia in bonobo comprehension of spoken English. Mind & Language, 32(4), 395-415. doi:10.1111/mila.12150

Cuskley, C., Castellano, C., Colaiori, F., Loreto, V., Pugliese, M., & Tria, F. (2017). The regularity game: investigating linguistic rule dynamics in a population of interacting agents. Cognition, 159, 25-32. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2016.11.001

Carr, J. W., Smith, K., Cornish, H., & Kirby, S. (2017). The cultural evolution of structured languages in an open-ended, continuous world. Cognitive Science, 41, 892-923. doi:10.1111/cogs.12371

Culbertson, J., Gagliardi, A., & Smith, K. (2017). Competition between phonological and semantic cues in noun class learning. Journal of Memory and Language, 92, 343–358. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.08.001

Kanwal, J., Smith, K., Culbertson, J., & Kirby, S. (2017). Zipf’s Law of Abbreviation and the Principle of Least Effort: Language users optimise a miniature lexicon for efficient communication. Cognition, 165, 45-52. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2017.05.001

Kirby, S. (2017). Culture and biology in the origins of linguistic structure. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. doi:10.3758/s13423-016-1166-7

Samara, A., Smith, K., Brown, H., & Wonnacott, E. (2017). Acquiring variation in an artificial language: children and adults are sensitive to socially conditioned linguistic variation. Cognitive Psychology, 94, 85-114. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2017.02.004

Smith, K., Perfors, A., Fehér, O., Samara, A., Swoboda, K., & Wonnacott, E. (2017). Language learning, language use, and the evolution of linguistic variation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 372, 20160051. doi:10.1098/rstb.2016.0051


Blythe, R. A., Smith, A. D. M., & Smith, K. (2016). Word learning under infinite uncertainty. Cognition, 151, 18–27. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2016.02.017

Culbertson, J., & Kirby, S. (2016). Simplicity and specificity in language: Domain-general biases have domain-specific effects. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1–11. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01964

Carr, J. W., & Smith, K. (2016). Modeling language transmission. In T. K. Shackelford & V. A. Weekes-Shackelford (Eds.) Encyclopedia of evolutionary psychological science. Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3353-1

Fehér, O. (2016). Atypical birdsong and artificial languages provide insights into how communication systems are shaped by learning, use and transmission. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. doi: 10.3758/s13423-016-1107-5

Fehér, O., Wonnacott, E., & Smith, K. (2016). Structural priming in artificial languages and the regularisation of unpredictable variation. Journal of Memory and Language, 91, 158-180. doi: 10.1016/j.jml.2016.06.002

Spike, M., Stadler, K., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (2016). Minimal requirements for the emergence of learned signaling. Cognitive Science. doi:10.1111/cogs.12351

Tamariz, M., & Kirby, S. (2016). The cultural evolution of language. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 37–43. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.09.003

Thompson, B., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (2016). Culture shapes the evolution of cognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 113, 4530–4535. doi:10.1073/pnas.1523631113


Atkinson, M., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (2015). Speaker input variability does not explain why larger populations have simpler languages. PLOS ONE, 10, e0129463. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129463

Blythe, R.A. (2015). Colloquium: Hierarchy of scales in language dynamics. European Physical Journal B, 88:295. doi:10.1140/epjb/e2015-60347-3

Culbertson, J. & Newport, E.L. (2015). Harmonic biases in child learners: In support of language universals. Cognition, 139:71–82. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.02.007

Cuskley, C., Simner, J., & Kirby, S. (2015). Phonological and orthographic influences in the bouba–kiki effect. Psychological Research, 1–12. doi:10.1007/s00426-015-0709-2

Kirby, S., Tamariz, M., Cornish, H., & Smith, K. (2015). Compression and communication in the cultural evolution of linguistic structure. Cognition, 141, 87–102. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.03.016

O’Grady, C., Kliesch, C., Smith, K., & Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2015). The ease and extent of recursive mindreading, across implicit and explicit tasks. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 313-322. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.01.004

Silvey, C., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (2015). Word meanings evolve to selectively preserve distinctions on salient dimensions. Cognitive Science, 39, 212–226. doi:10.1111/cogs.12150

Tamariz, M., & Kirby, S. (2015). Culture: Copying, compression, and conventionality. Cognitive Science, 39, 171–183. doi:10.1111/cogs.12144

Verhoef, T., Kirby, S., & de Boer, B. (2015). Iconicity and the emergence of combinatorial structure in language. Cognitive Science. doi:10.1111/cogs.12326

Wilson, B., Smith, K., & Petkov, C. (2015). Mixed-complexity artificial grammar learning in humans and macaque monkeys: Evaluating learning strategies. European Journal of Neuroscience, 41, 568-578. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12834

Wilson, B., Kikuchi, Y., Sun, L., Hunter, D., Dick, F., Smith, K., Thiele, A., Griffiths, T. D., Marslen-Wilson, W. D., & Petkov, C. I. (2015). Auditory sequence processing reveals evolutionarily conserved regions of frontal cortex in macaques and humans. Nature Communications, 6, 8901. doi:10.1038/ncomms9901

Winters, J., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (2015). Languages adapt to their contextual niche. Language and Cognition, 7, 415–449. doi:10.1017/langcog.2014.35


Blythe, R.A., & Scott-Phillips, T.C. (2014). Simulating the real origins of communication. PLOS ONE, 9(11): e113636. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113636

Claidière, N., Smith, K., Kirby, S., & Fagot, J. (2014). Cultural evolution of systematically structured behaviour in a non-human primate. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281, 1–9. doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.1541

Culbertson, J. & Adger, D. (2014). Language learners privilege structured meaning over surface frequency. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(16):5842– 5847. doi:10.1073/pnas.1320525111

Kirby, S., Griffiths, T. L., & Smith, K. (2014). Iterated learning and the evolution of language. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 28, 108–114. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2014.07.014

Martin, D., Hutchison, J., Slessor, G., Urquhart, J., Cunningham, S. J., & Smith, K. (2014). The spontaneous formation of stereotypes via cumulative cultural evolution. Psychological Science, 25, 1777-1786. doi:10.1177/0956797614541129

Monaghan, P., Shillcock, R. C., Christiansen, M. H., & Kirby, S. (2014). How arbitrary is language? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 369, 1–12. doi:10.1098/rstb.2013.0299

Tamariz, M., Fay, N., Ellison, M. & Barr, D. (2014). Cultural selection drives the evolution of human communication systems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 281. doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0488

Verhoef, T., Kirby, S., & de Boer, B. (2014). Emergence of combinatorial structure and economy through iterated learning with continuous acoustic signals. Journal of Phonetics, 43, 57–68. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2014.02.005


Blythe, R.A., & Scott-Phillips, T.C. (2013). Why is combinatorial communication rare in the natural world, and why is language an exception to this trend? Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 10: 20130520. doi:10.1098/rsif.2013.0520

Culbertson, J., Smolensky, P., & Wilson, C. (2013). Cognitive biases, linguistic universals, and constraint-based grammar learning. Topics in Cognitive Science, 5(3):392–424. doi:10.1111/tops.12027

Lipkind, D., Marcus, G. F., Bemis, D., Sasahara, K., Jakoby, N., Takahashi, M., Suzuki, K., Fehér, O., Ravbar, P., Okanoya, K., & Tchernichovski, O. (2013). Stepwise acquisition of vocal combinatorial capacity in songbirds and human infants. Nature, 498, 104-108. doi:10.1038/nature12173

Reisenauer, R., Smith, K., & Blythe, R. A. (2013). Statistical mechanics of lexicon learning in an uncertain world. Physical Review Letters, 110, 258701. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.258701

Wilson, B., Slater, H., Kikuchi, Y., Milne, A., Marslen-Wilson, W., Smith, K., & Petkov, C. (2013). Auditory artificial grammar learning in macaque and marmoset monkeys. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 18825–18835. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2414-13.2013


Blythe, R.A., & Croft, W. (2012). S-curves and the mechanisms of propagation in language change. Language, 88:269. doi:10.1353/lan.2012.0027

Blythe, R.A. (2012). Neutral evolution: A null model for language dynamics. ACS–Advances in Complex Systems, 15:1150015 doi:10.1142/S0219525911003414

Caldwell, C. A., & Smith, K. (2012). Cultural evolution and perpetuation of arbitrary communicative conventions in experimental microsocieties. PLOS One, 7, e43807. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043807

Culbertson, J. & Smolensky, P. (2012). A Bayesian model of biases in artificial language learning: The case of a word-order universal. Cognitive Science, 36(8):1468– 1498. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2012.01264.x

Culbertson, J. (2012). Typological universals as reflections of biased learning: Evidence from artificial language learning. Language and Linguistics Compass, 6(5):310– 329. doi:10.1002/lnc3.338

Culbertson, J., Smolensky, P., & Legendre, G. (2012). Learning biases predict a word order universal. Cognition, 122:306–329. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2011.10.017

Flynn, E. G. & Smith, K. (2012). Investigating the mechanisms of cultural acquisition: How pervasive is overimitation in adults? Social Psychology, 43, 185-195. doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000119

Scott-Phillips, T.C., Blythe, R.A., Gardner, A., & West, S.A. (2012) How do communication systems emerge? Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 279:1943. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.2181


Smith, K. (2011). Learning bias, cultural evolution of language, and the biological evolution of the language faculty. Human Biology, 83, 261–278. doi:10.3378/027.083.0207

Smith, K., Smith, A. D. M., & Blythe, R. A. (2011). Cross-situational learning: An experimental study of word learning mechanisms. Cognitive Science, 35, 480–498. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2010.01158.x


Blythe, R. A., Smith, K., & Smith, A. D. M. (2010). Learning times for large lexicons through cross-situational learning. Cognitive Science, 34, 620-642. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01089.x

Scott-Phillips, T. C., & Kirby, S. (2010). Language evolution in the laboratory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14, 411–417. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2010.06.006

Simner, J., Cuskley, C., & Kirby, S. (2010). What sound does that taste? Cross-modal mappings across gustation and audition. Perception, 39, 553–569. doi:10.1068/p6591

Smith, K., & Wonnacott, E. (2010). Eliminating unpredictable variation through iterated learning. Cognition, 116, 444–449. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.06.004

Theisen, C. A., Oberlander, J., & Kirby, S. (2010). Systematicity and arbitrariness in novel communication systems. Interaction Studies, 11, 14–32. doi:10.1075/is.11.1.08the


Baxter, G.J., Blythe, R.A., Croft, W., & McKane, A.J. (2009). Modeling language change: An evaluation of Trudgill’s theory of the emergence of New Zealand English. Language Variation and Change, 21:257. doi:10.1017/S095439450999010X

Beckner, C., Blythe, R., Bybee, J.L., Christiansen, M.H., Croft, W., Ellis, N.C., Holland, J., Ke, J., Larsen-Freeman, D., & Schoenemann T. (2009). Language is a complex adaptive system: Position paper. Language Learning, 59(S1):1. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00533.x

Blythe, R.A., & Croft, W. (2009). The Speech Community in Evolutionary Language Dynamics. Language Learning, 59(S1), 47. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00535.x

Cornish, H., Tamariz, M., & Kirby, S. (2009). Complex adaptive systems and the origins of adaptive structure: What experiments can tell us. Language Learning, 59(S1), 187–205. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00540.x

Fehér, O., Wang, H., Saar, S., Mitra, P. P., & Tchernichovski, O. (2009). De novo establishment of wild-type song culture in the zebra finch. Nature, 459, 564-568. doi:10.1038/nature07994

Hruschka, D.J., Christiansen, M.H., Blythe, R.A., Croft, W., Heggarty, P., Mufwene, S.S., Pierrehumbert, J.B., & Poplack, S. (2009) Building social cognitive models of language change. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13:464. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2009.08.008

Scott-Phillips, T. C., Kirby, S., & Ritchie, G. R. S. (2009). Signalling signalhood and the emergence of communication. Cognition, 113, 226–233. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2009.08.009


Kirby, S., Cornish, H., & Smith, K. (2008). Cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory: An experimental approach to the origins of structure in human language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 105, 10681–10686. doi:10.1073/pnas.0707835105

Ritchie, G. R. S., Kirby, S., & Hawkey, D. J. C. (2008). Song learning as an indicator mechanism: Modelling the developmental stress hypothesis. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 251, 570–583. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2007.12.013

Smith, K. (2008). Is a holistic protolanguage a plausible precursor to language? A test case for a modern evolutionary linguistics. Interaction Studies, 9, 1-17. doi:10.1075/is.9.1.02smi

Smith, K., & Kirby, S. (2008). Cultural evolution: Implications for understanding the human language faculty and its evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363, 3591–3603. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0145

Smith, K., Kalish, M., Griffiths, T., & Lewandowsky, S. (2008). Introduction. Cultural transmission and the evolution of human behaviour. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 363, 3469-3476. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0147


Kirby, S., Dowman, M., & Griffiths, T. L. (2007). Innateness and culture in the evolution of language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 104, 5241–5245. doi:10.1073/pnas.0608222104