Statistical learning in typical and atypical language development: the roles of attention and modality-specific constraints.

Thursday, December 17, 2020 - 12:30pm

Zhenghan Qi, MD/PhD

Assistant Professor, University of Delaware Linguistics & Cognitive Science Psychological & Brain Sciences Communication Sciences & Disorders


Both children and adults are sensitive to the regularities and variabilities distributed in their environment. Statistical learning, an ability to extract temporal regularities, is a critical skill for first language acquisition (Saffran et al., 1997; Aslin & Newport, 2008). There are two parts of my talk. Age-invariance of linguistic statistical learning (Saffran et al., 1997; Raviv & Arnon, 2017; Shufaniya & Arnon, 2018) suggests that learning outcomes are potentially independent of growing language experiences/skills or maturing top-down cognitive systems across development. I am going to first present evidence that demonstrates critical developmental differences underlying seemingly age-invariant behavior.  I will then present studies highlighting the specific links between auditory and linguistic aspects of statistical learning and language development in both typical populations and those with neurodevelopmental disorders. These findings indicate domain-specific constraints of learning might be particularly vulnerable to atypical brain development.
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