Individual and developmental differences in distributional learning

Jessica Hall, Amanda J.Owen Van Horne, Karla K. McGregor, Thomas A. Farmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study examined whether children and adults with developmental language disorder (DLD) could use distributional information in an artificial language to learn about grammatical category membership similarly to their typically developing (TD) peers and whether developmental differences existed within and between DLD and TD groups. Method: Sixteen children ages 7–9 with DLD, 26 age-matched TD children, 17 college students with DLD, and 17 TD college students participated in this task. We used an artificial grammar learning paradigm in which participants had to use knowledge of category membership to determine the acceptability of test items that they had not heard during a training phase. Results: Individuals with DLD performed similarly to TD peers in distinguishing grammatical from ungrammatical combinations, with no differences between age groups. The order in which items were heard at test differentially affected child versus adult participants and showed a relation with attention and phonological working memory as well. Conclusion: Differences in ratings between grammatical and ungrammatical items in this task suggest that individuals with DLD can form grammatical categories from novel input and more broadly use distributional information. Differences in order effects suggest a developmental timeline for sensitivity to updating distributional information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-709
Number of pages16
JournalLanguage, speech, and hearing services in schools
Issue number3S
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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