Major Department

Speech Pathology and Audiology


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2019

Honors Major Advisor

Yu-Hsiang Wu

Thesis Mentor

Elizabeth A. Walker


Sequential learning is a statistical learning mechanism that supports extraction of rule-based linguistic patterns. Children born deaf lack early access to spoken language. Some research suggests this period of deafness restricts sequential learning development. However, sequential learning paradigms may measure different constructs depending on task stimuli—easily verbalized stimuli may be encoded and maintained by higher-order, language-dependent mechanisms (e.g., verbal mediation) rather than domain-general statistical learning mechanisms. The current feasibility study addresses the following questions: (1) do children demonstrate sequential learning with verbally mediated stimuli, (2) does verbal mediation affect explicit learning of stimuli sequences, and (3) do cognitive/linguistic skills predict sequential learning? Researchers tested 25 children with normal hearing using a battery of cognitive/linguistic measures and two reaction time-based sequential learning tasks, which included either verbally or nonverbally mediated stimuli sequences. Results indicated that children demonstrate sequential learning with nonverbally, but not verbally, mediated sequences. Explicit sequence recall did not differ significantly by task. Lastly, expressive vocabulary was negatively associated with performance on the verbally mediated sequential learning task; children with larger vocabularies demonstrated reduced sequential learning. These findings suggest a competition between general and higher-order learning systems, motivating future study of these constructs in children with hearing loss.


sequential learning, implicit learning, children, verbal mediation

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Copyright @ 2019 Jeffrey Shymanski