In this experiment we compared young and older adults' abilities to produce complex sentences under controlled conditions. We asked participants to memorize sentence stems differing in syntactical complexity and then to produce a complete sentence using the stem. The length, complexity, and content of young adults' responses varied with the syntactical complexity of the stems, whereas older adults' responses did not. These results suggest that working memory processing limitations impose a “ceiling” on older adults' production of complex sentences, limiting their length, complexity, and content.
This is an electronic version of an article published in J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci (2004) 59 (5): P220-P224. doi: 10.1093/geronb/59.5.P220
Kemper, S., Herman, R.E., Liu, C. J. (2004). Sentence production by younger and older adults in controlled contexts. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 58B, P220-P224. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/geronb/59.5.P220
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