Online Incidental Statistical Learning of Audio-Visual Sequences in Adults

The research group Child, Language and Learning (CLL) at the Department of Special Needs Education is hosting an open lecture by Dr. Kuppuraj Sengottuvel


Dr. Kuppuraj Sengottuvel, University of Oxford.

Dr. Kuppuraj Sengottuvel, University of Oxford is holding an open lecture on online incidental statistical learning of audio-visual sequences in adults.


Statistical learning has been proposed as a key mechanism in language learning. Our main goal was to examine whether adults are capable of simultaneously extracting statistical dependencies in a task where stimuli include a range of structures amenable to statistical learning within a single paradigm.

We devised an online statistical learning task using real word auditory–picture sequences that vary in two dimensions:

  • (i) predictability and
  • (ii) adjacency of dependent elements.

This task was followed by an offline recall task to probe learning of each sequence type. We registered three hypotheses with specific predictions.

First, adults would extract regular patterns from continuous stream (effect of grammaticality). Second, within grammatical conditions, they would show differential speeding up for each condition as a factor of statistical complexity of the condition and exposure. Third, our novel approach to measure online statistical learning would be reliable in showing individual differences in statistical learning ability.

Further, we explored the relation between statistical learning and a measure of verbal short-term memory (STM). Forty-two participants were tested and retested after an interval of at least 3 days on our novel statistical learning task. We analysed the reaction time data using a novel regression discontinuity approach. Consistent with prediction, participants showed a grammaticality effect, agreeing with the predicted order of difficulty for learning different statistical structures. Furthermore, a learning index from the task showed acceptable test–retest reliability (r = 0.67). However, STM did not correlate with statistical learning. We discuss the findings noting the benefits of online measures in tracking the learning process.

About the Speaker

Kuppuraj Sengottuvel's research is concerned with trying to understand why some children have specific language learning difficulty (a condition widely known as Specific Language Impairment).  He studies the learning mechanisms underlying language in these children from the procedural declarative model.  He received a two year Newton International Postdoctoral fellowship to work with Dorothy Bishop at her Oxford Study of Children’s Communication Impairments (OSCCI) to investigate the learning behaviour of conditional probability (language like) events in children with and without language impairment. 

Dr. Kuppuraj's work focuses on procedural/statistical learning and language impairments. His cross-linguistic work compares procedural learning in children speaking English and Kannada, and he proposes that children studying some languages (like English) could be more vulnerable  to deficits in regularity learning compared to others.


Publisert 4. mai 2018 12:23 - Sist endret 18. feb. 2019 12:48