Statistical Learning of Higher-Order Temporal Structure from Visual Shape Sequences

J. Fiser, Richard N. Aslin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

309 Citations (Scopus)


In 3 experiments, the authors investigated the ability of observers to extract the probabilities of successive shape co-occurrences during passive viewing. Participants became sensitive to several temporal-order statistics, both rapidly and with no overt task or explicit instructions. Sequences of shapes presented during familiarization were distinguished from novel sequences of familiar shapes, as well as from shape sequences that were seen during familiarization but less frequently than other shape sequences, demonstrating at least the extraction of joint probabilities of 2 consecutive shapes. When joint probabilities did not differ, another higher-order statistic (conditional probability) was automatically computed, thereby allowing participants to predict the temporal order of shapes. Results of a single-shape test documented that lower-order statistics were retained during the extraction of higher-order statistics. These results suggest that observers automatically extract multiple statistics of temporal events that are suitable for efficient associative learning of new temporal features.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-467
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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