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Adult age effects in auditory statistical learning

Neger, T. M., Rietveld, T., & Janse, E. (2015). Adult age effects in auditory statistical learning. In M. Wolters, J. Livingstone, B. Beattie, R. Smith, M. MacMahon, J. Stuart-Smith, & J. Scobbie (Eds.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2015). London: International Phonetic Association.
Statistical learning plays a key role in language processing, e.g., for speech segmentation. Older adults have been reported to show less statistical learning on the basis of visual input than younger adults. Given age-related changes in perception and cognition, we investigated whether statistical learning is also impaired in the auditory modality in older compared to younger adults and whether individual learning ability is associated with measures of perceptual (i.e., hearing sensitivity) and cognitive functioning in both age groups. Thirty younger and thirty older adults performed an auditory artificial-grammar-learning task to assess their statistical learning ability. In younger adults, perceptual effort came at the cost of processing resources required for learning. Inhibitory control (as indexed by Stroop colornaming performance) did not predict auditory learning. Overall, younger and older adults showed the same amount of auditory learning, indicating that statistical learning ability is preserved over the adult life span.
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