Statistical Learning Is Related to Reading Ability in Children and Adults

Joanne Arciuli, Ian C. Simpson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    203 Citations (Scopus)


    There is little empirical evidence showing a direct link between a capacity for statistical learning (SL) and proficiency with natural language. Moreover, discussion of the role of SL in language acquisition has seldom focused on literacy development. Our study addressed these issues by investigating the relationship between SL and reading ability in typically developing children and healthy adults. We tested SL using visually presented stimuli within a triplet learning paradigm and examined reading ability by administering the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT-4; Wilkinson & Robertson, 2006). A total of 38 typically developing children (mean age of 9;5 years, range 6;4-12;5) and 37 healthy adults (mean age of 21years, range 18-34) were assessed. In children, SL was significantly related to reading ability. Importantly, this relationship was independent of grade and also age. The adult data, too, revealed that SL was significantly related to reading ability. A regression analysis of the combined child and adult data revealed that SL accounted for a unique amount of variance in reading ability, after age and attention had been taken into consideration. For the first time, this study provides empirical evidence that a capacity for more effective SL is related to higher reading ability in the general population.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)286-304
    Number of pages19
    JournalCognitive Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


    • Language acquisition
    • Reading
    • Reading aloud
    • Reading development
    • SL
    • Statistical learning


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