Story Processing Ability in Cognitively Healthy Younger and Older Adults PurposeThe purpose of the study was to examine the relationships among measures of comprehension and production for stories depicted in wordless pictures books and measures of memory and attention for 2 age groups.MethodSixty cognitively healthy adults participated. They consisted of two groups—young adults (20–29 years of age) and older adults ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2011
Story Processing Ability in Cognitively Healthy Younger and Older Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Heather Harris Wright
    Arizona State University, Tempe AZ
    Arizona State University, Tempe AZ
  • Gilson J. Capilouto
    University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
    University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
  • Cidambi Srinivasan
    University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
    University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
  • Gerasimos Fergadiotis
    Arizona State University, Tempe AZ
    Arizona State University, Tempe AZ
  • Correspondence to Heather Harris Wright: heather.wright.1@asu.edu
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Swathi Kiran
    Associate Editor: Swathi Kiran×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   June 01, 2011
Story Processing Ability in Cognitively Healthy Younger and Older Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2011, Vol. 54, 900-917. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0253)
History: Received November 23, 2009 , Revised April 12, 2010 , Accepted October 7, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2011, Vol. 54, 900-917. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0253)
History: Received November 23, 2009; Revised April 12, 2010; Accepted October 7, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 16

PurposeThe purpose of the study was to examine the relationships among measures of comprehension and production for stories depicted in wordless pictures books and measures of memory and attention for 2 age groups.

MethodSixty cognitively healthy adults participated. They consisted of two groups—young adults (20–29 years of age) and older adults (70–89 years of age). Participants completed cognitive measures and several discourse tasks; these included telling stories depicted in wordless picture books and answering multiple-choice comprehension questions pertaining to the story.

ResultsThe 2 groups did not differ significantly for proportion of story propositions conveyed; however, the younger group performed significantly better on the comprehension measure as compared with the older group. Only the older group demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between the story measures. Performance on the production and comprehension measures significantly correlated with performance on the cognitive measures for the older group but not for the younger group.

ConclusionsThe relationship between adults' comprehension of stimuli used to elicit narrative production samples and their narrative productions differed across the life span, suggesting that discourse processing performance changes in healthy aging. Finally, the study’s findings suggest that memory and attention contribute to older adults' story processing performance.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institute on Aging Grant R01AG029476. We are especially grateful to the study participants. We also thank Leah Carter, Mary Dudash, and Dayna Libow for assistance with transcription and language analyses. Finally, we thank Lori Altmann for her thoughtful comments on previous versions of this article.
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