Implicit statistical learning and language acquisition

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Acquiring spoken language involves implicitly learning the statistical relations among language units. In this chapter, we review recent behavioral and neurophysiological findings from our research group that illuminate the relation of this type of ‘implicit statistical learning’ (ISL) to language acquisition. First, we review evidence illustrating that ISL mechanisms enable the learner to predict upcoming language units. Second, we show modality constraints affecting the operation of ISL mechanisms, with auditory and visual learning biased to learn different types of patterns. Third, we demonstrate that under certain developmental conditions typical ISL abilities are altered, which can detrimentally affect subsequent language acquisition. These findings highlight the experience-dependent nature of ISL and its relation to typical and atypical language acquisition.


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