Readers as statistical learners: an individual differences approach

01 March 2022 → 28 February 2027
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Language acquisition
  • Social sciences
    • Neuroimaging
    • Learning and behaviour
    • Cognitive processes
    • Research methods and experimental design
Regularities Neurobiological mechanisms Statistical learning Implicit learning Individual differences Reading Dyslexia Literacy acquisition
Project description

Individual differences in statistical learning (SL), defined as the ability to learn regularities from sensory input, are a promising avenue for understanding why some of us (learn to) read with greater ease than others. This project entertains a novel three-dimensional (3D) approach to individual differences in SL that considers: I. sensitivity to patterns, II. retention of learned patterns, and III. adaptability to changing environments. It breaks new ground by bringing together the scientific domains of language and reading on the one hand, and learning and memory on the other. It integrates evidence from behavioral experiments, the measurement of brain activity, the tracking of eye movements during reading, and monitoring the developmental trajectory of beginning readers. The first work packages map individual differences in the three dimensions of learning regularities from print, and investigate the cognitive and brain mechanisms underlying them. We next take this knowledge to the real written world and evaluate how 3D learning profiles may effectively explain and predict the reading behavior of adult and beginning readers. Our findings will provide a precise understanding of how humans learn in structured environments and how SL abilities affect the acquisition and execution of fluent reading. They also hold the promise of informing best practices in literacy instruction and interventions that capitalize on individual differences.