Statistical Learning Is Related to Reading Ability in Children and Adults

Cognitive Science 36 (2):286-304 (2012)
Abstract
There is little empirical evidence showing a direct link between a capacity for statistical learning (SL) and proficiency with natural language. Moreover, discussion of the role of SL in language acquisition has seldom focused on literacy development. Our study addressed these issues by investigating the relationship between SL and reading ability in typically developing children and healthy adults. We tested SL using visually presented stimuli within a triplet learning paradigm and examined reading ability by administering the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT-4; Wilkinson & Robertson, 2006). A total of 38 typically developing children (mean age of 9;5 years, range 6;4–12;5) and 37 healthy adults (mean age of 21 years, range 18–34) were assessed. In children, SL was significantly related to reading ability. Importantly, this relationship was independent of grade and also age. The adult data, too, revealed that SL was significantly related to reading ability. A regression analysis of the combined child and adult data revealed that SL accounted for a unique amount of variance in reading ability, after age and attention had been taken into consideration. For the first time, this study provides empirical evidence that a capacity for more effective SL is related to higher reading ability in the general population
Keywords Language acquisition  Reading  Reading aloud  Reading development  SL  Statistical learning
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Noam A. Chomsky (1980). Rules and Representations. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (127):1-61.

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