[PS-2.20] Statistical Multitasking: Concurrent Learning of Adjacent and Non-Adjacent Dependencies in Visuo-Spatial and Visuo-Verbal Tasks

Deocampo, J. , Valdez, G. , King, T. & Conway, C.

Georgia State University

Learning non-adjacent sequential dependencies generally only occurs under favorable circumstances (Lany & Gomez, 2008). However, both adjacent and non-adjacent dependencies (AD and NAD) are learned in natural language. Vuong et al. (2016) recently showed adults learn visuo-verbal AD and NAD with training over multiple sessions.
We tested whether adults could learn AD and NAD together with spatial and verbal stimuli during a single session and whether a second session would increase performance. Participants reproduced two types of "grammatical" sequences: visuo-spatial with sequential stimuli in four locations, and visuo-verbal with sequential syllables. Each contained AD and NAD. Participants were tested for incidental learning on reproduction of novel sequences, half grammatical and half ungrammatical, containing either violations of AD or NAD. The procedure was repeated on a second day.
Grammatical sequences were reproduced better than ungrammatical for both AD and NAD in both visuo-spatial and visuo-verbal tasks, indicating learning. AD learning was better than NAD and spatial was better than verbal. Thus, adults can learn AD and NAD within a single session in both spatial and verbal tasks. Furthermore, learning of NAD decreased over time, possibly due to increased exposure to ungrammatical sequences suggesting NAD learning is more easily disrupted than AD.