Impaired visuo-spatial statistical learning with mathematical learning difficulties

Sharon Levy, Nicholas B. Turk-Browne, Liat Goldfarb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid extraction of temporal and spatial patterns from repeated experience is known as statistical learning (SL). Studies on SL show that after few minutes of exposure, observers exhibit knowledge of regularities hidden in a sequence or array of objects. Previous findings suggest that visuo-spatial statistical learning might relate to numerical processing mechanisms. Hence, the current study examines for the first time visuo-spatial SL in a population with a deficiency in the numerical system: individuals with mathematical learning difficulties (MLD). Thirty-two female participants (16 with MLD and 16 matched controls) were tested on a visuo-spatial statistical learning task. The results revealed that visuo-spatial SL was significantly worse in the MLD group than in a control group, although MLD performed as well as controls in a visual discrimination task. In addition, whereas the control group showed reliable visuo-spatial SL above chance, the MLD group did not. Because learned regularities can broadly facilitate cognitive processing, individuals with MLD may thus suffer from additional behavioural challenges beyond their numerical difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-148
Number of pages11
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Numerical cognition
  • arithmetic deficits
  • statistical regularities
  • visuo-spatial skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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