Paired-associate learning ability accounts for unique variance in orthographic learning

Hua Chen Wang*, Malin Wass, Anne Castles

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)
    25 Downloads (Pure)


    Paired-associate learning is a dynamic measure of the ability to form new links between two items. This study aimed to investigate whether paired-associate learning ability is associated with success in orthographic learning, and if so, whether it accounts for unique variance beyond phonological decoding ability and orthographic knowledge. A group of 63 children ages 8–10 completed an orthographic learning task and three types of paired-associate learning task: visual–visual, visual–verbal, and verbal–verbal. The results showed that both visual–verbal and verbal–verbal (but not visual–visual) paired-associate learning ability were associated with success in learning the spellings of novel words. Moreover, hierarchical regression analyses showed that visual–verbal paired-associate learning predicted orthographic learning even after phonological decoding skill and existing orthographic knowledge had been accounted for. We propose that paired-associate learning ability may be one of the underlying mechanisms of orthographic learning, facilitating the connection between the phonology and orthographic representation of a word.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-16
    Number of pages12
    JournalScientific Studies of Reading
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


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