How much and how fast: rapid processing of spoken language in later adulthood.

E. L. Stine, A. Wingfield, L. W. Poon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Speech processing involves rapid decoding and construction of meaning from a transitory acoustic signal. Because older adults have been found to be slower in performing many cognitive tasks, we hypothesized that they may have difficulty in immediate recall for speech of increasing input rate. Two experiments are reported in which both older and younger participants listened to and immediately recalled sentences that were systematically varied in speech rate and number of propositions. Although recall performance of the older adults showed a disproportionate decline when speech rate was increased, older adults, as well as the younger adults, were able to recall sentences of increasing propositional densities. We also found that the tendency to recall a greater proportion of main ideas than details (the levels effect) was enhanced by increased propositional density, and depressed by increased speech rate and increased age. These results are discussed in terms of an age-related change in the rate at which information can be processed in working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-311
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'How much and how fast: rapid processing of spoken language in later adulthood.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this