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Implicit Learning in Specific Developmental Disorders (ILSDD)
Start date: Oct 1, 2012, End date: Oct 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project proposes to explore implicit learning among children with developmental disorders. Implicit learning is a process whereby we learn about regularities in our environment, including written text, without conscious awareness or effort to learn. While specific cognitive abilities such as phonology and memory have been extensively explored more global, fundamental learning abilities are rarely studied: there is a significant gap in the study of implicit learning despite suggestions that learning becomes more implicit in nature after explicit instruction takes place. It is argued that impairments in the mechanisms of implicit learning could mediate selective weaknesses in other cognitive processes such as reading and numeracy. The present project puts this argument under test in a series of behavioral and neurobiological studies of implicit learning in typical and atypical young populations, namely children with dyslexia and dyscalculia. This way, the nature of the project becomes twofold: first, it will examine fundamental implicit learning abilities in children with developmental disorders; the exploration of potential implicit learning difficulties coupled with well-studied specific deficits may offer the ground for a better understanding of such disorders. Second, it provides the first neuroimaging data on young children to generate functional phenotypes to predict individual differences in implicit learning. Most importantly, the findings will be used to create innovative, culture-free and language-free interventions that enhance children’s learning potential and improve their experience of schooling across Europe.
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