Enhanced Verbal Statistical Learning in Glossolalia

Szabolcs Kéri, Imre Kállai, Katalin Csigó

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Glossolalia (“speaking in tongues”) is a rhythmic utterance of word-like strings of sounds, regularly occurring in religious mass gatherings or various forms of private religious practices (e.g., prayer and meditation). Although specific verbal learning capacities may characterize glossolalists, empirical evidence is lacking. We administered three statistical learning tasks (artificial grammar, phoneme sequence, and visual-response sequence) to 30 glossolalists and 30 matched control volunteers. In artificial grammar, participants decide whether pseudowords and sentences follow previously acquired implicit rules or not. In sequence learning, they gradually draw out rules from repeating regularities in sequences of speech sounds or motor responses. Results revealed enhanced artificial grammar and phoneme sequence learning performances in glossolalists compared to control volunteers. There were significant positive correlations between daily glossolalia activity and artificial grammar learning. These results indicate that glossolalists exhibit enhanced abilities to extract the statistical regularities of verbal information, which may be related to their unusual language abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12865
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Artificial grammar
  • Glossolalia
  • Religion
  • Sequence learning
  • Statistical learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Enhanced Verbal Statistical Learning in Glossolalia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this