ERIC Number: ED247497
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Semantic Priming during Sentence Processing by Young and Older Adults.
Burke, Deborah; And Others
Two divergent views of linguistic ability in adulthood currently exist. One view maintains that verbal ability is preserved in old age, while the other view maintains that verbal ability declines, especially comprehension. To analyze the effects of semantic priming during sentence processing by 30 younger adults (mean age, 25 years) and 30 older adults (mean age, 69 years), three studies were conducted. In the first study, lexical decision latencies for words that were related to a preceding sentence were examined. In the second study, the position of the priming word for the lexical decision target was varied. In the third study, subjects read a sentence which was constructed to bias a particular semantic feature of a target word in a sentence, or no particular feature. In the first experiment no evidence of age-related changes in semantic priming processes, which are believed to be a fundamental component of comprehension, were found. In contrast, older adults did have more difficulty than younger adults in remembering the sentences they had read. In the second experiment no evidence of age-related changes in the nature of semantic processes were found. However, there was some indication of possible age changes in the temporal course of these processes. Finally, data from the third study demonstrated quite clearly that older adults did spontaneously make inferences during reading. These studies point out the importance of using appropriate techniques to separate semantic and retention processes in the study of comprehension. (BL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. on Aging (DHHS/NIH), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society (36th, San Francisco, CA, November 17-22, 1983).