Implicit statistical learning in children across modalities

Pavlidou, E. 1, 2 , Pugh, K. 2, 3, 4, 5 & Will

1 The University of Edinburgh
2 Haskins Laboratories
3 The University of Connecticut
4 Yale University
5 The University of Edinburgh

We explored implicit learning in children (6-9 years old) (N=30) using the artificial grammar learning paradigm (AGL) across three modalities: vision, hearing and touch. The experiments pitted abstract learning against stimulus-specific learning: we examined sensitivity to items generated following the same artificial grammar in all modalities to test whether children would preferentially learn the specific features of the items or the rules that generated these items. Using ANOVA?s and t-tests, we showed that children are sensitive to both abstract and specific information. Also the data revealed both quantitative and qualitative differences between senses. These commonalities and constrains are discussed in relation to the nature of implicit learning that is whether this type of learning is served by a single domain general mechanism or multiple mechanisms. It is the first time that implicit learning is rigorously studied across three modalities in young children. The European Commission via the Marie Curie Individuals Scheme funds this research.