Implicit-statistical learning of words and syntax: Evidence from cross-situational learning
Patrick Rebuschat (Lancaster University),
In this talk, I will present recent experiments that bring together methodological insights from two related, yet completely distinct research strands, namely “implicit learning” (Reber, 1967) and “statistical learning” (e.g., Saffran et al, 1996). In the first part, I will discuss experiments that used verbal reports and subjective measures of awareness to determine what strategies subjects followed in the learning task and whether they became aware of rules or patterns. Results indicate that provision of prior (explicit) knowledge significantly boosts implicit-statistical learning. In the second part, I will introduce a novel artificial language paradigm that is part of a long-term project on individual differences in language learning across the lifespan. Our results demonstrate that adult learners can simultaneously acquire lexical and syntactic information by keeping track of cross-trial statistics, after brief exposure, without feedback and without the conscious intention to learn. We conclude by discussing implications for future research.