Statistical learning (SL), the ability to pick up patterns in sensory input, serves as one of the building blocks of language acquisition. Although SL has been studied extensively in developmental dyslexia (DD), much less is known about the way SL evolves over time. The handful of studies examining this question were all limited to the acquisition of motor sequential knowledge or highly learned segmented linguistic units. Here we examined memory consolidation of statistical regularities in adults with DD and typically developed (TD) readers by using auditory SL requiring the segmentation of units from continuous input, which represents one of the earliest learning challenges in language acquisition. DD and TD groups were exposed to tones in a probabilistically determined sequential structure varying in difficulty and subsequently tested for recognition of novel short sequences that adhered to this statistical pattern in immediate and delayed-recall sessions separated by a night of sleep. SL performance of the DD group at the easy and hard difficulty levels was poorer than that of the TD group in the immediate-recall session. Importantly, DD participants showed a significant overnight deterioration in SL performance at the medium difficulty level compared to TD, who instead showed overnight stabilization of the learned information. These findings imply that SL difficulties in DD may arise not only from impaired initial learning but also due to a failure to consolidate statistically structured information into long-term memory. We hypothesize that these deficits disrupt the typical course of language acquisition in those with DD.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 734/22) awarded to Yafit Gabay, by the Binational Scientific Foundation (grant No. 2015227) and the National Science Foundation-Binational Scientific Foundation (BSF2016867, NSF BCS1655126) grants awarded to Yafit Gabay and Lori Holt, respectively and by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative Grant (875476) awarded to Dara Manoach. This study is part of the research conducted at the University of Haifa by Ranin Ballan, as partial fulfillment of her requirements for a PhD degree under the supervision of Yafit Gabay.
© 2022, The Psychonomic Society, Inc.
- Developmental dyslexia
- Memory consolidation
- Statistical learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)