Tong, S. X. 1 & Wong, W. 2
1 Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
2 Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
Statistical learning, or children?s ability to extract the statistical properties of data input, has been found to be a basic prerequisite underlying spoken language acquisition. However, an outstanding unresolved issue exists: namely, how statistical learning helps children acquire word reading skills in a nonalpahbetic language. This study addressed this issue by examining statistical learning and orthographic skills in Chinese children with and without developmental dyslexia. A group of 24 children with dyslexia and 24 age-matched controls were administered: 1.) a visual statistical learning test in which participants had to detect and extract the temporal order of stimuli; 2.) an orthographic regularity pattern elicitation task in which participants were asked to invent orthographically legal pseudo-characters with pairs of stroke patterns; and 3.) other word reading and dictation tasks. Chinese children with dyslexia performed significantly worse than controls on both statistical learning and orthographic regularity learning tasks. Statistical learning was uniquely associated with orthographic learning even after controlling for nonverbal verbal skills. These results suggest that Chinese children with dyslexia not only exhibit impaired statistical learning and orthographic skills, but that statistical learning may be a potential factor accounting for orthographic learning difficulties in children with dyslexia.