Implicit learning deficits among adults with developmental dyslexia

Shani Kahta, Rachel Schiff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The aim of the present study was to investigate implicit learning processes among adults with developmental dyslexia (DD) using a visual linguistic artificial grammar learning (AGL) task. Specifically, it was designed to explore whether the intact learning reported in previous studies would also occur under conditions including minimal training and instructions that do not reveal the grammatical nature of the strings. Twenty-nine (14 DD and 15 typical development (TD)) adults were presented with letter sequences in the training phase and were asked to classify the test strings for their grammaticality. The results of the d′ measures in the implicit task indicated that learning had occurred for both groups, as the proportion of hits exceeded the proportion of false alarms. However, a significant difference was found between the groups in their learning measures, as TD readers performed significantly better than individuals with DD, supporting the assumption of a deficit in implicit sequential learning processes among individuals with DD. In order to examine whether the deficit found in the first experiment was indeed due to a deficit in implicit processes, a second experiment was designed in which explicit instructions were given during an AGL task. Results of the explicit task strengthen the assumption that the deficit is indeed specific to implicit sequential processes, as no difference between the groups was found when participants were aware of the existence of the grammar underlying the strings. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-250
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Dyslexia
Issue number2
Early online date10 Feb 2016
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, The International Dyslexia Association.


  • Artificial grammar learning
  • Dyslexia
  • Implicit learning
  • Statistical learning


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