Testing Statistical Learning Implicitly: A Novel Chunk-based Measure of Statistical Learning


Attempts to connect individual differences in statistical learning with broader aspects of cognition have received considerable attention, but have yielded mixed results. A possible explanation is that statistical learning is typically tested using the two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) task. As a meta-cognitive task relying on explicit familiarity judgments, 2AFC may not accurately capture implicitly formed statistical computations. In this paper, we adapt the classic serial-recall memory paradigm to implicitly test statistical learning in a statistically-induced chunking recall (SICR) task. We hypothesized that artificial language exposure would lead subjects to chunk recurring statistical patterns, facilitating recall of words from the input. Experiment 1 demonstrates that SICR offers more fine-grained insights into individual differences in statistical learning than 2AFC. Experiment 2 shows that SICR has higher test-retest reliability than that reported for 2AFC. Thus, SICR offers a more sensitive measure of individual differences, suggesting that basic chunking abilities may explain statistical learning.

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