Exploring the source of enhanced statistical learning in bilinguals
Finding how experience influences basic cognitive abilities is a central quest in cognitive science. As all languages exhibit statistical structure, but in language-specific ways, bilinguals must learn and joggle different sets of statistical regularities all the time. The protracted experience of learning and using two languages in life has been claimed to improve executive functions. Here we asked whether individual patterns of bilingual experiences predict another core human ability, the implicit extraction of complex patterns of statistical regularities. In two experiments, we found that degree of bilingualism modulates auditory statistical learning (ASL) but not visual statistical learning (VSL). These results reveal important modality-specific effects of the relationship between bilingual experience and human learning abilities in adulthood.