Auditory statistical learning in children: Novel insights from an online measure

I. M.M.E. Lammertink*, M. E.R.E.L. Van Witteloostuijn, Paul Boersma, Frank Wijnen, Judith Rispens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Nonadjacent dependency learning is thought to be a fundamental skill for syntax acquisition and often assessed via an offline grammaticality judgment measure. Asking judgments of children is problematic, and an offline task is suboptimal as it reflects only the outcome of the learning process, disregarding information on the learning trajectory. Therefore, and following up on recent methodological advancements in the online measurement of nonadjacent dependency learning in adults, the current study investigates if the recording of response times can be used to establish nonadjacent dependency learning in children. Forty-six children (mean age: 7.3 years) participated in a child-friendly adaptation of a nonadjacent dependency learning experiment (López-Barroso, Cucurell, Rodríguez-Fornells, & de Diego-Balaguer, 2016). They were exposed to an artificial language containing items with and without nonadjacent dependencies while their response times (online measure) were measured. After exposure, grammaticality judgments (offline measure) were collected. The results show that children are sensitive to nonadjacent dependencies, when using the online measure (the results of our offline measure did not provide evidence of learning). We therefore conclude that future studies can use online response time measures (perhaps in addition to the offline grammaticality judgments) to further investigate nonadjacent dependency learning in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-302
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • grammaticality judgment
  • language development
  • nonadjacent dependency learning
  • response time
  • statistical learning


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