Cross-situational statistical learning in younger and older adults

Federica Bulgarelli, Daniel J. Weiss, Nancy A. Dennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research investigating statistical learning, the process of tracking regularities in the environment, in older adults has been limited; with existing studies suggesting there are age-related declines. We aim to further understand older adults’ statistical learning abilities using a cross-situational statistical learning paradigm in which learners map novel words to novel objects. In Experiment 1, we manipulated task difficulty and found an overall age deficit but no interaction between age and difficulty. In Experiment 2, after extended practice with a first set of object-word mappings, learners could remap a subset of previously learned words to novel objects. Based on hyper-binding, older adults might be more willing to remap previously learned words to novel objects. However, despite overall poorer learning, older adults were actually less likely to remap. Even though older adults may have an associative memory deficit, learned associations are not more weakly bound for older relative to younger adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-366
Number of pages21
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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