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.


Martin, A. & White, J. (forthcoming). Vowel harmony and disharmony are not equivalent in learning. Linguistic Inquiry.

Martin, A. & Peperkamp, S. (forthcoming). Phonetically natural rules benefit from a learning bias: a re-examination of vowel harmony versus disharmony. Phonology.

Karjus, A., Blythe, R. A., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (forthcoming). Challenges in detecting evolutionary forces in language change using diachronic corpora. To appear in Glossa.

Karjus, A., Blythe, R. A., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (forthcoming). Quantifying the dynamics of topical fluctuations in language. To appear in Language Dynamics and Change.

Atkinson, M., Mills, G., & Smith, K. (2019). Social group effects on the emergence of communicative conventions and language complexity. Journal of Language Evolution, 4, 1-18. doi: 10.1093/jole/lzy010

Castillo, L., Smith, K., & Branigan, H. (2019). Interaction promotes the adaptation of referential conventions to the communicative context. Cognitive Science, 43, e12780. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12780

Culbertson, J., Jarvinen, H., Haggarty, F., & Smith, K. (2019). Children’s sensitivity to phonological and semantic cues during noun class learning: evidence for a phonological bias. Language, 95, 268-293. doi: 10.1353/lan.2019.0031

Fehér, O., Ritt, N., & Smith, K. (2019). Asymmetric accommodation during interaction leads to the regularisation of linguistic variants. Journal of Memory and Language, 109, 104036. doi: 10.1016/j.jml.2019.104036

Saldana, C., Kirby, S., Truswell, R., & Smith, K. (2019). Compositional hierarchical structure evolves through cultural transmission: an experimental study. Journal of Language Evolution, 4, 83-107. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0729

Saldana, C., Fagot, J., Kirby, S., Smith, K., & Claidière, N. (2019). High-fidelity copying is not necessarily the key to cumulative cultural evolution: a study in monkeys and children. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286, 20190729. doi: doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0729

Silvey, C., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (2019). Communication increases category structure and alignment only when combined with cultural transmission. Journal of Memory and Language, 109, 104051.
Sato, A., Schouwstra, M., Flaherty, M., & Kirby, S. (2019). Do all aspects of learning benefit from iconicity? Evidence from motion capture. Language and Cognition, 1-20. doi: 10.1017/langcog.2019.37

Motamedi, Y., Schouwstra, M., Smith, K., Culbertson, J, & Kirby, S. (2019). Evolving artificial sign languages in the lab: From improvised gesture to systematic sign. Cognition, 192, 1-21. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.05.001

Schouwstra, M., de Swart, H. & Thompson, B. (to appear). Interpreting Silent Gesture: cognitive biases and rational inference in emerging language systems. Cognitive Science. preprint

Martin, A., Abels, K., Ratitamkul, T. & Culbertson, J. (2019). Cross-Linguistic Evidence for Cognitive Universals in the Noun Phrase. Linguistics Vanguard. 5 (1) doi: 10.1515/lingvan-2018-0072

Culbertson, J., Jarvinen, H., Haggarty, F. & Smith, K. (to appear). Children’s Sensitivity to Phonological and Semantic Cues During Noun Class Learning: Evidence for a Phonological Bias. Language. preprint

Culbertson, J. (to appear). Artificial Language Learning. In Oxford Handbook of Experimental Syntax, edited by Jon Sprouse. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Cuskley, C.*, Dingemanse*, M., van Leeuwen, T. & Kirby, S. (2019). Cross-modal associations and synaesthesia: Categorical perception and structure in vowel-colour mappings in a large online sample. Behaviour Research Methods, doi: 10.3758/s13428-019-01203-7 [*joint 1st authors].

deCastro-Arrazola, V. & Kirby, S. (2019). The emergence of verse templates through iterated learning. Journal of Language Evolution, 4 (1), 28-43. doi: 10.1093/jole/lzy013

Culbertson, J. & Schuler, K. (2019). “Artificial Language Learning in Children.” Annual Review of Linguistics, 5: 353–73. doi: 10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011718-012329.

Ferdinand, V., Kirby, S., & Smith, K. (2019). The cognitive roots of regularization in language. Cognition, 184, 53-68. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.12.002


Vihman, V.A., Nelson, D. & Kirby, S. (2018). Animacy distinctions arise from iterated learning. Open Linguistics, 4(1), 552-565. doi: 10.1515/opli-2018-0027

Ravignani, A., Thompson, B., Grossi, T., Delgado, T. & Kirby, S. (2018). Evolving building blocks of rhythm: how human cognition creates music via cultural transmission. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1423 (1), 176-187. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13610

Thomas, J. & Kirby, S. (2018). Self domestication and the evolution of language. Biology & Philosophy, 33(1-2), 9. doi: 10.1007/s10539-018-9612-8

Atkinson, M., Mills, G., & Smith, K. (2018). Social Group Effects on the Emergence of Communicative Conventions and Language Complexity. Journal of Language Evolution, 4(1), 1-18. doi: 10.1093/jole/lzy010

Atkinson, M., Smith, K., & Kirby, S. (2018). Adult learning and language simplification. Cognitive Science, 42, 2818-2854. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12686

Buccola B., Dautriche I. & Chemla E. (2018). Competition and symmetry in an artificial word learning task Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2176. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02176

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

Cuskley, C., Loreto, V., & Kirby, S. (2018). A Social Approach to Rule Dynamics Using an Agent-Based Model. Topics in Cognitive Science, 10(4), 745-758. doi: 10.1111/tops.12327

Dautriche, I., Fibla, L., Fievet, A. C., & Christophe, A. (2018). Learning homophones in context: Easy cases are favored in the lexicon of natural languages. Cognitive psychology, 104, 83-105. doi: 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2018.04.001

Hutchison, J., Cunningham, S. J., Slessor, G. , Urquhart, J. , Smith, K. and Martin, D. (2018). Context and Perceptual Salience Influence the Formation of Novel Stereotypes via Cumulative Cultural Evolution. Cognitive Science, 42, 186-212. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12560

Mahowald, K., Dautriche, I., Gibson, E., & Piantadosi, S. T. (2018). Word Forms Are Structured for Efficient Use. Cognitive Science, 42(8), 3116-3134. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12689

Nölle, J., Staib, M., Fusaroli, R., Tylén, K. (2018). The emergence of systematicity: how environmental and communicative factors shape a novel communication system. Cognition, 181, 93-104. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.08.014

Smith, K. (2018). How Culture and Biology Interact to Shape Language and the Language Faculty. Topics in Cognitive Science. doi: 10.1111/tops.12377

Smith, K. (2018). The cognitive prerequisites for language: Insights from iterated learning. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 21, 154-160. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2018.05.003

Wilson, B., Spierings, M., Ravignani, A., Mueller, J. L., Mintz, T. H., Wijnen, F., van der Kant, A., Smith, K., & Rey, A. (2018). Non-adjacent dependency learning in humans and other animals. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1-23. doi: 10.1111/tops.12381

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


Dautriche, I., Mahowald, K., Gibson, E., & Piantadosi, S. T. (2017). Wordform similarity increases with semantic similarity: An analysis of 100 languages. Cognitive science, 41(8), 2149-2169. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12453

Dautriche, I., Mahowald, K., Gibson, E., Christophe, A., & Piantadosi, S. T. (2017). Words cluster phonetically beyond phonotactic regularities. Cognition, 163, 128-145. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.02.001

De Carvalho, A., Dautriche, I., Lin, I., & Christophe, A. (2017). Phrasal prosody constrains syntactic analysis in toddlers. Cognition, 163, 67-79. doi:

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

Martin, D., Cunningham, S. J., Hutchison, J., Slessor, G., & Smith, K. (2017). How societal stereotypes might form and evolve via cumulative cultural evolution. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 11, e12338. doi: 10.1111/spc3.12338

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