Statistical learning of adjacent and nonadjacent dependencies among nonlinguistic sounds
- Cite this article as:
- Gebhart, A.L., Newport, E.L. & Aslin, R.N. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2009) 16: 486. doi:10.3758/PBR.16.3.486
Previous work has demonstrated that adults are capable of learning patterned relationships among adjacent syllables or tones in continuous sequences but not among nonadjacent syllables. However, adults are capable of learning patterned relationships among nonadjacent elements (segments or tones) if those elements are perceptually similar. The present study significantly broadens the scope of this previous work by demonstrating that adults are capable of encoding the same types of structure among unfamiliar nonlinguistic and nonmusical elements but only after much more extensive exposure. We presented participants with continuous streams of nonlinguistic noises and tested their ability to recognize patterned relationships. Participants learned the patterns among noises within adjacent groups but not within nonadjacent groups unless a perceptual similarity cue was added. This result provides evidence both that statistical learning mechanisms empower adults to extract structure from nonlinguistic and nonmusical elements and that perceptual similarity eases constraints on nonadjacent pattern learning. Supplemental materials for this article can be downloaded from pbr.psychonomic-journals.org/content/supplemental.