Weight status impacts children's incidental statistical learning

Anne M. Walk, Corinne N. Cannavale, Shelby A. Keye, Laura Rosok, Caitlyn Edwards, Naiman Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The expanding literature investigating the cognitive effects of childhood weight status has not included examinations of incidental statistical learning, the process by which children unintentionally acquire knowledge about patterns in their environments, despite evidence that it underlies many higher-level information processing capabilities. In the present study, we measured event-related potentials (ERPs) while school-aged participants completed a variation of an oddball task in which stimuli predicted the appearance of a target. Children were asked to respond to the target but were not given any information about the existence of predictive dependencies. We found that children with a healthy weight status had larger P3 amplitudes in response to the predictors that were most meaningful in completing the task, a finding that may suggest optimized learning mechanisms influenced by weight status. These findings offer an important first step to understanding how healthy lifestyle factors may influence incidental statistical learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-42
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Adiposity
  • Cognitive development
  • Implicit learning
  • P3
  • Probabilistic learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • General Neuroscience


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