Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Order in the Statistical Learning of Phonotactics

Version 1 : Received: 12 May 2020 / Approved: 14 May 2020 / Online: 14 May 2020 (05:59:14 CEST)

How to cite: Richtsmeier, P. Order in the Statistical Learning of Phonotactics. Preprints 2020, 2020050230. Richtsmeier, P. Order in the Statistical Learning of Phonotactics. Preprints 2020, 2020050230.


A premise of statistical learning research is that learners attend to and learn the frequencies of repeating or co-occurring elements in the input. When the input is a series of words, participants readily learn the frequencies of phoneme sequences, that is, to learn phonotactic frequencies. Inherent to the concepts of both frequency and phonotactics is order, or the temporal structure of the input. Order is similarly inherent to statistical learning, yet the effect of order on statistical learning is not well understood. In the present study, adult participants learned the relative frequencies of eight item-medial consonant sequences, for example, the /mk/ in /nʌmkət/. Across five ordering conditions, both familiarization and test stimuli were independently ordered and randomized, thus allowing for a relatively broad search for order effects in an established statistical learning paradigm. Participants learned the target frequencies equivalently across the five ordering conditions, indicating no modulating effect of order. Nevertheless, participants also approached the task by applying idiosyncratic, structured orders to their responses. The result is an unexpected but robust effect of order. Both the results and the design of the study also allow for increased integration of statistical learning with memory and other aspects of cognition.


statistical learning; phonotactics; order effects; working memory; mixed effects modeling


Social Sciences, Behavior Sciences

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