Volume 11, Issue 5
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Earlier work indicates that bilingualism may positively affect statistical learning, but leaves open whether a bilingual benefit is (1) found during learning rather than in a post-hoc test following a learning phase and (2) explained by enhanced verbal short-term memory skill in the bilinguals. Forty-one bilingual and 56 monolingual preschoolers completed a serial reaction time task and a nonword repetition task (NWR). Linear mixed-effect regressions indicated that the bilinguals showed a stronger decrease in reaction times over the regular blocks of the task than the monolinguals. No group differences in accuracy-based measures were found. NWR performance, which did not differ between the groups, did not account for the attested effect of bilingualism. These results provide partial support for effects of bilingualism on statistical learning, which appear during learning and are not due to enhanced verbal short-term memory. Taken together, these findings add to a growing body of research on effects of bilingualism on statistical learning, and constitute a first step towards investigating the factors which may underlie such effects.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Armon-Lotem, S., & Meir, N.
    (2016) Diagnostic accuracy of repetition tasks for the identification of specific language impairment (SLI) in bilingual children: evidence from Russian and Hebrew. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 51, 715–731. 10.1111/1460‑6984.12242
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12242 [Google Scholar]
  2. Baguley, T.
    (2012) Calculating and graphing within-subject confidence intervals for ANOVA. Behavior Research Methods, 44, 158–175. 10.3758/s13428‑011‑0123‑7
    https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-011-0123-7 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bartolotti, J., Marian, V., Schroeder, S. R., & Shook, A.
    (2011) Bilingualism and inhibitory control influence statistical learning of novel word forms. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 1–10. 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00324
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00324 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bates, D., Maechler, M., Bolker, B., & Walker, S.
    (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effect models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software, 67, 1–48. 10.18637/jss.v067.i01
    https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v067.i01 [Google Scholar]
  5. Biedroń, A., & Szczepaniak, A.
    (2012) Working memory and short-term memory abilities in accomplished multilinguals. The Modern Language Journal, 96, 290–306. 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2012.01332.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2012.01332.x [Google Scholar]
  6. Blom, E., Küntay, A. C., Messer, M., Verhagen, J., & Leseman, P. P. M.
    (2014) The benefits of being bilingual: Working memory in bilingual Turkish-Dutch children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 128, 105–119. 10.1016/j.jecp.2014.06.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2014.06.007 [Google Scholar]
  7. Boerma, T., Chiat, S., Leseman, P. P. M., Timmermeister, M., Wijnen, F., & Blom, E.
    (2015) A quasi-universal nonword repetition task as a diagnostic tool for bilingual children learning Dutch as a second language. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 58, 1747–1760. 10.1044/2015_JSLHR‑L‑15‑0058
    https://doi.org/10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-15-0058 [Google Scholar]
  8. Bonifacci, P., Giombini, L., Bellocchi, S., & Contento, S.
    (2011) Speed of processing, anticipation, inhibition and working memory in bilinguals. Developmental Science, 14, 256–269. 10.1111/j.1467‑7687.2010.00974.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.00974.x [Google Scholar]
  9. de Bree, E. H., Verhagen, J., Kerkhoff, A. O., Doedens, W. J., & Unsworth, S.
    (2017) Language learning from inconsistent input: Bilingual and monolingual toddlers compared. Infant and Child Development, 26, e1996. 10.1002/icd.1996
    https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.1996 [Google Scholar]
  10. Bulgarelli, F., Lebkuecher, A. L. & Weiss, D. J.
    (2018) Statistical learning in bilingualism. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 49, 740–753. 10.1044/2018_LSHSS‑STLT1‑17‑0139
    https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_LSHSS-STLT1-17-0139 [Google Scholar]
  11. Chambers, J. M., Freeny, A. R., & Heiberger, R. M.
    (1992) Analysis of variance; designed experiments. InChambers, J. M., & Hastie, T. J. (Eds.), Statistical Models in S. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. le Clercq, C. M. P., van der Schroeff, M. P., Rispens, J. E., Ruytjens, L., Goedegebure, A., van Ingen, G., & Franken, M-C.
    (2017) Shortened nonword repetition task (NWR-S): A simple, quick and less expensive outcome to identify children with combined specific language and reading impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 2241–2248. 10.1044/2017_JSLHR‑L‑16‑0060
    https://doi.org/10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0060 [Google Scholar]
  13. Delcenserie, A., & Genesee, F.
    (2017) The effects of age of acquisition on verbal memory in bilinguals. International Journal of Bilingualism, 21, 600–616. 10.1177/1367006916639158
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006916639158 [Google Scholar]
  14. Duncan, T. S., & Paradis, J.
    (2016) English language learners’ nonword repetition performance: The influence of age, L1 vocabulary size, length of L2 exposure, and L1 phonology. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 59, 39–48. 10.1044/2015_JSLHR‑L‑14‑0020
    https://doi.org/10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0020 [Google Scholar]
  15. Dutilh, G., Vandekerckhove, J., Forstmann, B. U., Keuleerst, E., Brysbaert, M., & Wagenmakers, E-J.
    (2012) Testing theories of post-error slowing. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 74, 454–465. 10.3758/s13414‑011‑0243‑2
    https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-011-0243-2 [Google Scholar]
  16. Erickson, L. C., & Thiessen, E. D.
    (2015) Statistical learning of language: Theory, validity, and predictions of a statistical learning account of language acquisition. Developmental Review, 37, 66–108. 10.1016/j.dr.2015.05.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2015.05.002 [Google Scholar]
  17. Franco, A., Eberlen, J., Destrebecqz, A., Cleeremans, A., & Bertels, J.
    (2015) Rapid serial auditory presentation: A new measure of statistical learning in speech segmentation. Experimental Psychology, 62, 346–351. 10.1027/1618‑3169/a000295
    https://doi.org/10.1027/1618-3169/a000295 [Google Scholar]
  18. Fernandes, M. A., Craik, F. I. M., Bialystok, E., & Kreuger, S.
    (2007) Effects of bilingualism, aging, and semantic relatedness on memory under divided attention. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 128–141. 10.1037/cjep2007014
    https://doi.org/10.1037/cjep2007014 [Google Scholar]
  19. Gathercole, S. E.
    (2006) Keynote article: Nonword repetition and word learning: The nature of the relationship. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 513–543. 10.1017/S0142716406060383
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716406060383 [Google Scholar]
  20. Grama, I. C., Kerkhoff, A. O., & Wijnen, F. N. K.
    (2016) Gleaning structure from sound: The role of prosodic contrast in learning non-adjacent dependencies. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 45, 1427–1449. 10.1007/s10936‑016‑9412‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-016-9412-8 [Google Scholar]
  21. Hautus, M. J.
    (1995) Corrections for extreme proportions and their biasing effects on estimated values of d’. Behavior Research Methods, 27, 46–51.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Hirosh, Z., & Degani, T.
    (2017) Direct and indirect effects of multilingualism on novel language learning: An integrative review. Psychonomic Bulletin Review, 25, 892–916. 10.3758/s13423‑017‑1315‑7
    https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1315-7 [Google Scholar]
  23. Hunt, R. H., & Aslin, R. N.
    (2001) Statistical learning in a serial reaction time task: Access to separable statistical cues by individual learners. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 130, 658–680. 10.1037/0096‑3445.130.4.658
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.130.4.658 [Google Scholar]
  24. Jaeger, T. F.
    (2010) Post to HLP/Jaeger lab blog. https://hlplab.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/random-effect-structure/, accessedSeptember 2019.
  25. Kapa, L. L., & Colombo, J.
    (2014) Executive function predicts artificial language learning. Journal of Memory and Language, 76, 237–252. 10.1016/j.jml.2014.07.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2014.07.004 [Google Scholar]
  26. Kaushanskaya, M.
    (2012) Cognitive mechanisms of word learning in bilingual and monolingual adults: The role of verbal short-term memory. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 15, 470–489. 10.1017/S1366728911000472
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728911000472 [Google Scholar]
  27. Keuleers, E., Brysbaert, M., & New, B.
    (2010) SUBTLEX-NL: A new frequency measure for Dutch words based on film subtitles. Behavior Research Methods, 42, 643–650. 10.3758/BRM.42.3.643
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BRM.42.3.643 [Google Scholar]
  28. Kovács, A. & Mehler, J.
    (2009) Flexible learning of multiple speech structures in bilingual infants. Science, 325, 611–612. 10.1126/science.1173947
    https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1173947 [Google Scholar]
  29. Kuo, L. J., & Anderson, R. C.
    (2010) Beyond cross-language transfer: Reconceptualizing the impact of early bilingualism on phonological awareness. Scientific Studies of Reading, 14, 365–385. 10.1080/10888431003623470
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10888431003623470 [Google Scholar]
  30. (2012) Effects of early bilingualism on learning phonological regularities in a new language. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 111, 455–467. 10.1016/j.jecp.2011.08.013
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2011.08.013 [Google Scholar]
  31. Kuznetsova, A., Brockhoff, P. B., & Christensen, R. H. B.
    (2017) lmerTest Package: Tests in Linear Mixed Effects Models. Journal of Statistical Software, 82, 1–26. 10.18637/jss.v082.i13
    https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v082.i13 [Google Scholar]
  32. Lammertink, I., van Witteloostuijn, M., Boersma, P., Wijnen, F., & Rispens, J.
    (2019) Auditory statistical learning in children: Novel insights from an online measure. Applied Psycholinguistics, 40, 279–302. 10.1017/S0142716418000577
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716418000577 [Google Scholar]
  33. Lum, J. A. G., Conti-Ramsden, G., Morgan, A. T., & Ullman, M. T.
    (2014) Procedure learning deficits in specific language impairment (SLI): a meta-analysis of serial reaction time task performance. Cortex, 51, 1–10. 10.1016/j.cortex.2013.10.011
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2013.10.011 [Google Scholar]
  34. Macmillan, N. A., & Creelman, C. D.
    (2005) Detection theory: A user’s guide (2nd edition). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. McKean, C., Letts, C., & Howard, D.
    (2013) Developmental change is key to understanding primary language impairment: The case of phonotactic probability and nonword repetition. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 56, 1579–1594. 10.1044/1092‑4388(2013/12‑0066)
    https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0066) [Google Scholar]
  36. Messer, M. H., Leseman, P. P. M., Boom, J., & Mayo, A. Y.
    (2010) Phonotactic probability effect in nonword recall and its relationship with vocabulary in monolingual and bilingual preschoolers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 105, 306–323. 10.1016/j.jecp.2009.12.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2009.12.006 [Google Scholar]
  37. Misyak, J. B., & Christiansen, M. H.
    (2012) Statistical language and language: An individual differences study. Language Learning, 62, 302–331. 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2010.00626.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2010.00626.x [Google Scholar]
  38. Nissen, M. J., & Bullemer, P.
    (1987) Attentional requirements of learning: evidence from performance measures. Cognitive Psychology, 19, 1e32. 10.1016/0010‑0285(87)90002‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(87)90002-8 [Google Scholar]
  39. Onnis, L., Chun, W. E., & Lou-Magnuson, M.
    (2017) Improved statistical learning abilities in adult bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21, 427–433. 10.1017/S1366728917000529
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728917000529 [Google Scholar]
  40. Parra, M., Hoff, E., & Core, C.
    (2011) Relations among language exposure, verbal short-term memory, and language development in Spanish-English bilingually developing two-year-olds. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 113–125. 10.1016/j.jecp.2010.07.011
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2010.07.011 [Google Scholar]
  41. Park, J. S., Miller, C., Rosenbaum, D. A., Sanjeevan, T., van Hell, J. G., Weiss, D. J., & Mainela-Arnold, E.
    (2018) Bilingualism and procedural learning in typically developing children and children with language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 61, 634–644. 10.1044/2017_JSLHR‑L‑16‑0409
    https://doi.org/10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0409 [Google Scholar]
  42. Perruchet, P. & Tillmann, B.
    (2010) Exploiting multiple sources of information in learning an artificial language: Human data and modeling. Cognitive Science, 34, 255–285. 10.1111/j.1551‑6709.2009.01074.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01074.x [Google Scholar]
  43. Poepsel, T. J., & Weiss, D.
    (2016) The influence of bilingualism on statistical word learning. Cognition, 152, 9–19. 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.03.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.03.001 [Google Scholar]
  44. Powell, M. J. D.
    (2009) The BOBYQA algorithm for bound constrained optimization without derivatives (Report). Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Cambridge University. www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/na/NA_papers/NA2009_06.pdf, accessedSeptember 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. R Core Team
    R Core Team (2015) R: A language environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Rispens, J., & Baker, A.
    (2012) Nonword repetition: the relative contributions of phonological short-term memory and phonological representations in children with language and hearing impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 55, 683–694. 10.1044/1092‑4388(2011/10‑0263)
    https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0263) [Google Scholar]
  47. Stanislaw, H., & Todorov, N.
    (1999) Calculation of signal detection measures. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments and Computers: A Journal of the Psychonomic Society, 31, 137–149. 10.3758/BF03207704
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03207704 [Google Scholar]
  48. Thiessen, E. D.
    (2017) What’s statistical about learning? Insights from modelling statistical learning as a set of memory processes. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society B, 372, 1711. 10.1098/rstb.2016.0056
    https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0056 [Google Scholar]
  49. Vicari, S., Marotti, L., Menghini, D., Molinari, M., & Petrosini, L.
    (2003) Implicit learning deficit in children with developmental dyslexia. Neuropsychologica, 41, 108–114. 10.1016/S0028‑3932(02)00082‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0028-3932(02)00082-9 [Google Scholar]
  50. Wang, T., & Saffran, J. R.
    (2014) Statistical learning of a tonal language: the influence of bilingualism and previous linguistic experience. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 953. 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00953
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00953 [Google Scholar]
  51. Weiss, D., Gerfen, C., & Mitchel, A.
    (2009) Speech segmentation in a simulated bilingual environment: A challenge for statistical learning?Language Learning and Development, 5, 30–49. 10.1080/15475440802340101
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15475440802340101 [Google Scholar]
  52. Yim, D., & Rudoy, J.
    (2013) Implicit statistical learning and language skills in bilingual children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 56, 310–323. 10.1044/1092‑4388(2012/11‑0243)
    https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0243) [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error