Minimal requirements for the emergence of learned signalling

Matthew Spike, Kevin Stadler, Simon Kirby, Kenneth Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The emergence of signalling systems has been observed in numerous experimental and realworld contexts, but there is no consensus on which (if any) shared mechanisms underlie such phenomena. A number of explanatory mechanisms have been proposed within several disciplines, all of which have been instantiated as credible working models. However, they are usually framed as being mutually incompatible. Using an exemplar-based framework, we replicate these models in a minimal conguration which allows us to directly compare them. This reveals that the development of optimal signalling is driven by similar mechanisms in each model, which leads us to propose three requirements for the emergence of conventional signalling. These are the creation and transmission of referential information, a systemic bias against ambiguity, and nally some form of information loss. Considering this, we then discuss some implications for theoretical and experimental approaches to the emergence of learned communication.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive Science
Early online date14 Mar 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Mar 2016


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