Hearing Matters More Than Seeing: A Cross-Modality Study of Statistical Learning and Reading Ability

Zhenghan Qi, Yoel Sanchez Araujo, Wendy C. Georgan, John D.E. Gabrieli, Joanne Arciuli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing interest in the link between implicit statistical learning (SL) and reading ability. Although learning to read involves both auditory and visual modalities, it is not known whether reading skills might be more strongly associated with auditory SL or visual SL. Here we assessed SL across both modalities in 36 typically developing children and 36 healthy adults using the classic triplet-learning paradigm. Auditory SL was significantly associated with sentence reading fluency (Woodcock Johnson III Test of Achievement) in the combined sample of children and adults after controlling for age and nonverbal intelligence. In further analysis of the child data, auditory SL was significantly associated with nonword reading accuracy (Woodcock Reading Mastery Test), a relationship which appeared to be mediated by phonological processing abilities (Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing). These findings suggest that auditory SL might contribute more strongly to certain aspects of reading development compared to visual SL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-115
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Studies of Reading
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • implicit statistical learning
  • SL
  • Reading ability
  • auditory modalities
  • visual modalities


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